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Hacking Bacteria’s DNA


Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) came into our lives after the infamous Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak incident in 1993. Now all public health labs use PFGE in foodborne illnesses and submit positives to the Centers for Disease Control.

The result of testing the bacteria’s DNA looks like a bar code, and CDC computers can match specimens so that what were once isolated illnesses with no known cause are now bunched together and called an outbreak. Outbreaks lead to sources, sources lead to companies and naming companies lead to headlines.

We aren’t doing worse, just creating more headlines.

Richard Raymond M.D., former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture

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The Washington DC 100