Genomics: What’s a SNP?

Genomics — it’s one of the most cutting-edge fields in science at the moment. In just the past few years, important species genomes have been unraveled, or sequenced. Wheat, reindeer and barley are just some of the most recent ones.

Beyond sequencing the genomes of new species, scientists also unravel the genomes of individual animals in order to better understand their genetic traits. When they do that, they’re looking specifically at SNPs.

SNPs, pronounced “snips,” stands for single nucleotide polymorphisms. They are slight variations in an individual’s genome that differ from the already sequenced reference genome. To be considered a SNP, a variation must occur in more than 1% of the population, making them more significant than your run-of-the-mill mutation. To use humans as an example, we have about 10 million SNPs in our genome. [ More … ]

Food Safety Education Month: How hot should you cook your food?

September is Food Safety Education Month, so guess what — we have some education for you, right here, right now, that you can bring home and use in your own kitchen tonight.

You may know that raw foods can contain a number of pathogens that can make you sick. Some of the more well-known ones are Listeria, E. coli, Salmonella and norovirus. You probably also know that when cooking food, the heat can kill these pathogens. But did you know that different meals require different cooking temperatures?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lists these as the internal temperatures different food items need to be heated to in order to be safely eaten: [ More … ]

Tox Tuesday: How were Seattle’s mussels contaminated with opioids?

Earlier this year, mussels fished from Puget Sound — the beautiful ocean inlet in the northeast corner of the U.S. state of Washington — tested positive for opioids.

No, the shellfish weren’t doing drugs. Rather, unprecedented levels of opioid prescriptions and opioid abuse have caused even the environment to be affected.

Opioid usage, both legitimate and illegal, is at unprecedented levels. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 58 opioid prescriptions were written for every 100 people. We humans impact nature wherever we go, including in this way. It’s not unusual for common pharmaceuticals to be found in Puget Sound, but researchers told NPR this is the first time they’ve detected traces in local shellfish.

Oxycodone, a powerful painkiller, was specifically the opioid detected in the tainted mussels. NPR reports that the amount found was “thousands of times” lower than the dosage you’d expect from humans, and that contamination was only detected in areas away from any commercial shellfish beds. Just three of 18 locations that were examined yielded tainted mussels. [ More … ]

Neogen at Feed & Pet Food Joint Conference

Neogen is in St. Louis, Missouri, the “Gateway to the West,” with our latest technology for mycotoxin detection. Neogen’s Raptor is a lateral flow test strip reader with built-in incubation. We’ll be at the Feed & Pet Food Joint Conference — hosted by the National Grain & Feed Association and the Pet Food Institute. We’ll be at booth #13

The annual event showcases the expertise of leading food safety providers and other experts for the grain and pet food sectors, and provides a chance to discuss policy and regulatory concerns in the industry with a strong focus on FSMA compliance.

When: Sept. 17–19, 2018
Where: Booth #13, Hyatt Regency St. Louis at The Arch, St. Louis, Missouri
See the event’s website for more information.

East African Community bands together to tackle aflatoxin problem

Every country in the world has its unique food safety challenges, driven by weather, climate, economy or other factors pertaining to each region. For much of East Africa, the top concern is aflatoxin.

Now, the East African Community (EAC), a coalition of six countries (Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda) have stepped up their plans to combat aflatoxin. The EAC members have agreed on a policy framework to more effectively deal with the threat of aflatoxin against human and animal health, and have set up a number of workshops and meetings where leaders will concoct battle plans against the carcinogenic threat.

Where the problem lies

The Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) estimates that loss of life is steep due to the carcinogenic aflatoxin, which may be responsible for the high rates of liver cancer in many African countries — at least 5,000 yearly in Nigeria alone. It goes beyond cancer. If populations are exposed to high rates of aflatoxin in the food supply, children’s growth can be stunted and immune systems can be weakened. [ More … ]

Monday Mycotoxin and Crop Report: September 17, 2018

This week’s Monday Mycotoxin and Crop Report covers new fumonisin and DON reports in corn, heavy rains slowing combines, and a special presentation from Kansas State University’s Dr. Cassie Jones on mycotoxin analysis as a tool for FSMA compliance. Watch the video here.

Neogen Corporation takes great care to ensure the integrity of the data we collect from many sources across the country. As these data can vary widely, they should NOT be considered typical of all grain harvested. The mycotoxin levels we report are intended to assist our industry partners in developing their risk assessment programs. Detecting problems before commingling or processing can help avoid quality issues and financial losses.

To subscribe to get these reports straight to your email inbox, click here.

Diapers for chickens: Yes, it’s a thing

They don’t exactly look like diapers, at least not the kind human babies wear. These diapers are more like overalls, and come in fun prints and colors, like with crouching cartoon froggies and stripes.

These diapers are for chickens, and as the backyard chicken movement grows, so too does the market for these poultry Pampers. They’re marketed for chicken raisers who want to bring birds indoors while protecting their floors, furniture, and well, everything from chicken defecation.

Online retailers and craftspeople are reporting steep profits on the garments, which are usually hand-sewn and designed by individual sellers. They often come with removable liners to keep cleanup simple or are resistant to moisture. Some even have ribbons, frilly edges or metal rings for attaching leashes. [ More … ]

Neogen launches upgraded Igenity® Beef Profile

LINCOLN, Neb., Sept. 14, 2018 — Commercial beef producers will get more traits and selection index tools in the upgraded Igenity® Beef profile.

The Igenity Beef Profile will offer 16 traits for $29, replacing Neogen’s 13-trait Igenity Gold ($40) and 6-trait Igenity Silver ($25) tests. The upgrade includes new predictions for weaning weight, yearling weight and hot carcass weight for a total of 16 traits scored on a 1–10 scale, plus two new selection indexes.

“Our customers will be getting a powerful new profile at even greater value,” said Dr. Stewart Bauck, vice president of agrigenomics at Neogen. “The Igenity profile was designed and validated for crossbred or straightbred cattle with backgrounds of Angus, Red Angus, Simmental, Hereford, Limousin and Gelbvieh.

“Most DNA profiles are breed-specific,” Bauck continued. “The novel design of Igenity Beef allows for the accurate prediction of performance in both crossbred or straightbred cattle among the target breeds. This lets cow-calf producers use a DNA profile to select the best replacements from their crossbred heifers as well as their straightbred heifers.” [ More … ]

What’s the difference? Shellfish, crustaceans and mollusks

Crustaceans and shellfish and mollusks — oh my!

Shellfish allergies are among the most common in the world, with countries around the globe implementing regulatory guidelines for their labeling. Interestingly, it’s an allergen that often manifests itself in the food-allergic person’s adulthood, with 60% of those allergic experiencing their first reaction after the age of 18.

There are a lot of creatures that fall under the umbrella of “shellfish,” however, and a person might find themselves allergic to some but not others. Today, we’ll take a minute to look at how this category is divided.


Crustaceans are a type of shellfish. You might know that it includes commonly eaten seafood like shrimp, crab and lobster. Also included: prawns, crayfish, krill and barnacles (Yes, some people do eat barnacles!). [ More … ]

Interest brewing in kombucha as healthy beer and soda alternative

Kombucha — a fun word to say, and to an increasing number of people, a fun drink to consume.

Kombucha is a type of lightly fermented, somewhat vinegary-tasting tea that has exploded in popularity with health food fans. It’s made using tea that has been brewed in a normal way, with sugar added, and then fermented using a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, known as a SCOBY. You can get the drink commercially, and it’s also popular with home brewers.

The SCOBY creates a small amount of alcohol (usually kombucha has 0.5% to 1.5% ABV), some carbon dioxide (making the drink fizzy, like a soft drink), acetic acid and other organic acids. Other ingredients are often added, like herbs and juices, for flavor and potential health benefits.

Kombucha has been around for a long time, likely originating in Northern China or Russia. The earliest possible records of its production date back to 220 BCE.

A replacement for beer and soda?

Plenty of manufacturers and consumers are excited about the possibility of kombucha having a craft beer-like boom in the beverage industry, suggesting that the drink has a wide appeal thanks to its soda-ish and beer-ish qualities. As interest in alcohol among millennials seems to be declining, some see an open slot that kombucha might fill. [ More … ]