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| 18 March, 2018

Dubai starts DNA tests to detect foodborne diseases

Comes in coordination with the US-based International Food-borne Pathogens Monitoring Network.

Image used for illustrative purposes. A DNA double helix is seen in an undated artist's illustration released by the National Human Genome Research Institute to Reuters on May 15, 2012. REUTERS/National Human Genome Research Institute

Image used for illustrative purposes. A DNA double helix is seen in an undated artist's illustration released by the National Human Genome Research Institute to Reuters on May 15, 2012. REUTERS/National Human Genome Research Institute

REUTERS/National Human Genome Research Institute

As part of Dubai Municipality's efforts to promote public health in the emirate, Dubai Central Laboratory Department has begun molecular profiling, to diagnose bacterial pathogens causing food poisoning.

"This step comes in coordination with the US-based International Food-borne Pathogens Monitoring Network," said Maha Al Hajiri, head of Food and Environment Laboratories Section. The tests are conducted using Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) for pathogens transmitted through food.

The Food and Environment Laboratories Section is the first local authority to use this advanced technology, expected to significantly impact the ability to detect the causes of food poisoning, to protect consumers and promote public health.

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"The presence of Dubai Municipality within the International Network for Foodborne Disease Surveillance will improve communication with food safety authorities around the world. Information on pathogens detected through this network can be shared and the procedures required for controlling imported food can be taken," said Al Hajiri.

She said that this is a basic step ahead of the laboratory's application of genome sequencing techniques, which will make another quantum leap after the launch of its use by the American Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

"Our Food and Environment Laboratories Section will become the main reference laboratory for such tests in the UAE and we will begin receiving bacterial isolates from laboratories of health establishments operating in Dubai and all emirates, as well as bacterial isolates that can be sent by laboratories of food establishments wishing to know the source of bacterial contamination in those establishments or in their food products and to link this contamination to the site taking bacterial isolation in order to take necessary action," said Al Hajiri.

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