Jaws’s genome could reveal secrets to wound treatment, cancer suppression

Great white sharks are one of the latest animals to have their genome sequenced, meaning scientists now have access to the entire DNA code that makes the sharks the way they are, from their jagged, razor-sharp teeth to their thrashing, powerful tails.

Over roughly 400 million years, sharks have evolved in unique ways from other sea-dwelling creatures, like having skeletons made of cartilage rather than bone. The great white shark is one of the largest species of sharks, capable of growing up to 20 feet long. It can dive to depths of nearly 4,000 feet. It’s also quite long-living, with a lifespan of 70 years or more.

“Historically, there’s been a lot more interest in sequencing other vertebrates, like livestock and primates,” said study co-leader Michael Stanhope of Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “But sharks have some fascinating biology going on that really warranted more investigation.” [ More … ]

Neogen at Petfood Forum 2019

The pet food industry has reached an exciting place in recent years. As experts converge in Kansas City, Missouri to talk about the latest developments at Petfood Forum, Neogen will be there to help pet food processors arm themselves with the latest in food safety technology.

The forum takes place April 29 – May 1.

We’ll be at booth 1508 to talk about several of our food safety solutions:

Reveal Q+ MAX — a line of rapid lateral flow test strips for detecting the presence of allergens.

Listeria Right Now – enrichment-free environmental Listeria detection in under one hour.

16S Metagenomics – Identifies the genus of each bacteria present in one sample, which enables you to find and eliminated spoilage organisms in your facility.

Raptor Integrated Analysis Platform – The most efficient lateral flow test strip reader for mycotoxin detection with three ports and built-in incubation.

African swine fever update: one million pounds of pork seized; vaccine research takes step forward

With the ongoing Asian and Eastern European outbreaks of African swine fever (ASF), a disease that is not known to harm humans but is deadly to pigs, countries not already touched by ASF virus have one goal: keep it out.

U.S. Custom and Border Protection officials may have prevented possible introduction of the virus to the U.S. food supply with last week’s seizure of about one million pounds of smuggled pork products from China, a country severely impacted by ASF outbreaks. It’s the largest seizure of agricultural products to ever happen in the U.S.

“Agriculture specialists made a critical interception of these prohibited animal products, and stopped them from entering the U.S. before they could potentially cause grave damage,” said Troy Miller, a director of field operations for Customs. ASF would have disastrous effects if introduced to the U.S. pork supply, as there is no vaccine. The pork industry would face enormous economic costs — an estimated $16.5 billion, collectively. [ More … ]

Could dung beetles boost food safety on the farm?

Food safety doesn’t start at the processing facility.

Farmers go to great lengths to protect their crops from invading pathogens. Recent years have seen outbreaks attributed to bacteria like E. coli deposited by passing wildlife (through their droppings) and runoff from nearby livestock feedlots, which can infect low-to-the-ground crops like broccoli and leafy greens. Though science is still figuring out how bacteria most often goes from soil to crops (through the roots? By getting on the surface?), it can be safely said that keeping pathogens from contaminating soil in the first place is the goal.

“Farmers are more and more concerned with food safety,” said Matthew Jones, who recently conducted research on the matter as part of his PhD project. “If someone gets sick from produce traced back to a particular farm it can be devastating for them.”

What if there was a natural way to help suppress E. coli and other pathogens in the field? [ More … ]

Food safety: Researchers seek kill-step to rid flour of pathogens

When you think of foods that present high food safety risks, flour isn’t generally top of the list. Flour’s dryness makes it less conducive to bacterial growth, and because it’s usually baked at a pathogen-killing temperature, it’s not very likely to cause foodborne illness once eaten.

That said, a few major recalls of flour have brought attention to the science surrounding flour contamination, and one team of researchers has dedicated itself to the challenge of improving flour food safety — and maybe devising a protective bacteria kill-step during processing, which doesn’t currently exist, protecting both commercial and home kitchen spheres.

“When I was trained as a food scientist, one of the things we were taught is that there were a few products that were generally safe,” said Kansas State University’s Gordon Smith, whose research team is studying flour-borne pathogens. “Maybe those products were not absolutely safe, but they were on a continuum of things that were much lower risk. Flour was one of those products.” [ More … ]

How disease ‘contact chains’ link farms near and far

It’s good to be connected to others in this world, but some networks are less than desirable — like disease networks.

Unwittingly introducing new diseases to a herd or flock is one of the biggest challenges in adding new animals. For this reason, farmers and ranchers employ biosecurity protocols and can quarantine the new animal to watch for signs of illness. In doing so, they help protect themselves from complex networks of disease “contact chains” that connect farms across the country.

Veterinary researchers at England’s University of Exeter dug deeper into these networks and how they affect much of the United Kingdom, looking particularly at beef and dairy farms. Their aim was to find patterns, or “pathways” for the spread of diseases that harm the cattle industries.

“We found that farms, even if they only bought cattle from one or two other farms, could be at the end of a chain connecting their farm and their animals to several thousand other farms,” said veterinary researcher Helen Fielding. [ More … ]

Neogen Viroxide Super proven effective against African Swine Fever

ROCHDALE, United Kingdom, 18 March, 2019 — Neogen announced today that Neogen Viroxide Super has been proven effective against the African Swine Fever (ASF) virus at a dilution of 1:800.

Neogen, with continued investment in the efficacy testing of Neogen Viroxide Super, now offers a market-leading, broad spectrum disinfectant and emergency disease control solution worldwide.

ASF is considered one of the most feared diseases for pig producers around the world. It can have a devastating impact on productivity, mortality and severe financial implications for pig farmers. ASF is on the OIE A list of notifiable diseases.

ASF has seen outbreaks during 2018-19 in China, Mongolia, Vietnam, Russia, Ukraine and other parts of Eastern Europe, in addition to Sub-Saharan Africa. The global demand for high quality pork products has resulted in the worldwide movement of pigs and pork products. As there is no current effective treatment for ASF, the need for good biosecurity measures is vital to contain the spread of ASF. [ More … ]

Scientists sequence the genome of Lil Bub, celebrity cat

Photo by Joyful Noise | CC BY-SA 4.0

With a couple of extra toes, a case of dwarfism, no teeth and a tongue that perpetually hangs out of her mouth, Lil Bub is one of the Internet’s most beloved animals. She (and her owner) have spent years as advocates for animal shelters, inspiring tens of thousands of dollars in donations to shelters. Now, her genome has been sequenced, providing insight into feline health that could apply to humans, too.

A genome is the entirety of a living being’s DNA. It contains all the information that makes us who we are. Unraveling, or sequencing, a genome allows scientists to look at all the genetic information that creates various traits, letting them distinguish what makes an individual unique.

In an interview with Science Magazine, the authors of a paper on the project shared that they were inspired by a documentary about Lil Bub, and thought her celebrity status might help their idea come to fruition. [ More … ]

FDA updates its imported food safety strategy: What importers need to know

As more links are added to the global food supply chain, not only do food industries become more intertwined, but so too do regulatory landscapes. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) may be a U.S.-based law, but it has enormous implications for suppliers overseas who might wish to do business with a U.S. company, introducing them to additional inspections and compliance standards.

In February, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its updated imported food safety strategy. Here’s what exporters to the U.S. need to know.

Four goals. The FDA outlines four goals that inform its strategy: to prevent food safety problems in the supply chain outside of the U.S., to detect and refuse unsafe food at U.S. borders, to respond quickly when unsafe food is imported, and for the FDA to measure its own progress regarding imported food safety.

Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) rule. Under this rule, U.S. importers must verify that their suppliers meet U.S. food safety standards as outlined by FSMA. Some key requirements: hazard analyses, risk evaluations and safety verification activities, all of which can involve third-party audits. [ More … ]

Science: Ticks are more likely to cause red meat allergies than we thought

We like to imagine that being bitten by a bug will give us cool, arachnid-based super powers — not food allergies.

But evidence has shown bites from certain species of ticks can lead to a temporary allergy to alpha-gal, a sugar found in red meats like beef, lamb and pork. Scientists have said that the allergy is more likely to be triggered if the offending tick had recently fed on alpha-gal-rich mammal blood, but new research suggests that this is not the case.

“Our original hypothesis was that humans developed the allergy after being exposed to alpha-gal through a tick that had fed on a deer, dog or other small mammal that has alpha-gal,” said Dr. Scott Commins of the University of North Carolina. “This new data suggests that ticks can induce this immune response without requiring the mammal blood meal, which likely means the risk of each bite potentially leading to the allergy is higher than we anticipated.” [ More … ]