How Dafgård is Using NGS to Ensure Food Safety
December 4, 2017
NGS platforms like the one Clear Labs has developed consist of the most modern parallel sequencers available in combination with advanced databases and technologies for rapid DNA analysis. These platforms have reduced the cost of DNA sequencing by orders of magnitude, putting the power to sequence genetic material in the hands of scientists and investigators across a range of research disciplines and industries. They have overtaken traditional, first-generation Sanger sequencing in clinical settings over the past several years and are now poised to supplement and likely replace PCR in food safety testing.
One of the best examples of how Clear Labs’ NGS platform is being put to use to ensure supply chain security and quickly identify potential problems comes from Dafgård, one of the largest and most innovative food providers in Europe. For the past year, Swedish food provider has been able to leverage Clear Labs’ platform to use a single test to screen each batch of its food for allergens, missing ingredients, and even the unexpected – like an unintended ingredient or pathogen.
The company extracts DNA from food samples and sends it to Clear Labs for end-to-end sequencing, processing, and analysis. Whether referring to a meatball at a major European retailer or a pre-made pizza at a local grocery store, Dafgård knows exactly what is in its food and can pinpoint potential trouble spots in its supply chains, immediately take steps to remedy issues, and predict future areas of concern.
For Dafgård the switch to NGS has given it the ability to see what was previously impossible with PCR and other technologies. Although Dafgård still uses PCR in select cases, it has run thousands of NGS-based tests over the past year. One of the biggest improvements has been in understanding the supply chain for the spices in its prepared foods. Supply chains for spices can be long and can result in extra or missing ingredients, some of which can affect consumer health. With the NGS platform, Dafgård can pinpoint ingredients down to the original supplier, getting an unparalleled look into its raw ingredients.
Dafgård hopes to soon switch to an entirely NGS-based platform, which will put the company at the forefront of food safety. Embracing this new technology within the broader food industry has been a decade-long process, one that will accelerate in the coming years, with an increased emphasis on food transparency both among consumers and regulators globally.
Perhaps the best analogy for this advancement comes from Magnus Dafgård, owner and executive vice president at Gunnar Dafgård AB:
“If you have poor eyesight and need glasses, you could be sitting at home surrounded by dirt and not even know it. Then when you get glasses, you will instantly see the dirt. So, do you throw away the glasses or get rid of the dirt?”
NGS platforms provide the clarity to see and address problem directly, giving companies like Dafgård confidence that they are using the most modern, sophisticated food safety technologies available.