In an effort to help prevent foodborne illnesses and contamination, IBM Research is teaming up with Mars for a safety study that'll examine how supply chains affect what we eat. Specifically, the duo will take a closer look at microorganisms in a safe factory environment to help cut down on the billions of dollars lost each year to medical costs and discarded food. By studying detailed genetics of bacteria, fungi and viruses, scientists can not only assess their growth, but also determine how to ensure our well-being when they're present. Many companies like Mars -- owner of Snickers, Uncle Ben's and other culinary brands -- already keep close tabs on quality control, but this new partnership aims to get super-specific about cataloging and analysis at an unprecedented scale.
"By mining insights from genomic data, we're seeking to understand how to identify, interpret and ultimately create healthy and protective microbial management systems within the food supply chain," said IBM Research's Vice President and Lab Director Jeff Welser. The collaborative effort is dubbed the Sequencing the Food Supply Chain Consortium, and while raw materials and factory conditions will garner attention first, research will eventually cover the entire food supply chain -- all the way down to info for farmers. This means that IBM and Mars will analyze the organisms present in distribution and retail channels, too. If you're more of the visual type, the infographic below provides an easily digestible summary of the whole thing.
[Lead photo credit: Patrick Hertzog/AFP/Getty Images]