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E. A New Technology to Protect the Nation's Food Supply

Narrator: This is Science Today. A new technology used to detect bioterror agents like anthrax can also be used to find harmful bacteria in food. Biomedical scientist Paula McCready of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, says the method involves testing whether a piece of DNA unique to the bacteria is present.

McCready: We've developed a system where we're able to take very basic types of information, like DNA sequence information and we're able now to mine that data in order to look for unique regions that are identifiers for a particular organism.

Narrator: McCready says the research was always intended to help protect the food supply from bacteria like Listeria monocytogenes, which kills about 500 Americans each year.

McCready: It was by design one of the outcomes that we hoped for when we initially started this. We created a very generic process intentionally because we wanted to be able to segue from the bioterrorism work and apply it more broadly to other arenas.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.