Life Technologies today said it has signed a five-year agreement with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) focused on food safety testing. Overall, the company said, the agreement aims to advance food safety testing of Escherichia coli and Salmonella, two contaminants often associated with outbreaks and regulatory recalls. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Under the terms of the agreement, Life Tech will be designing and validating new tests for the detection and identification of foodborne pathogens. For this, FDA will provide pathogen strains.

Additionally, Life Tech will be designing and validating a complete workflow for food pathogen detection on its Ion PGM™ platform, as well as optimizing sample prep methods, all of which FDA will have the opportunity to evaluate.

The Carlsbad, CA-based firm will also be applying its bioinformatics resources to develop real-time PCR assays against unique E. coli and Salmonella targets in collaboration with FDA.

Further, Life Tech said FDA will use its Ion PGM platform to generate whole-genome sequence information from defined bacteria, as well as for strains excluded from detection. Life Tech bioinformaticists will analyze the resulting data and provide FDA with tests for further validation and analysis. The firm added that whole-genome sequences generated through its collaboration with FDA will be deposited into GenBank, so they might be accessed by the food safety research community.

Finally, FDA will be testing Life Tech’s technologies for Salmonella investigations “as part of its effort to develop new rapid detection tools that can improve the public health response to future outbreaks,” the company said.

“We are excited to be entering this cooperative research and development agreement with the FDA as we have been working alongside them in one capacity or the other for over 10 years,” Nir Nimrodi, vp and gm for Food Safety and Animal Health at Life Tech, said in a statement. “The FDA will call on us, particularly when it comes to developing rapid detection kits. This agreement allows them to have new rapid track and trace products for rapid identification of foodborne contaminants.”

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