Illumina gets 5-year FDA contract to identify food bugs

Tue Sep 18, 2012 9:47am EDT

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(Reuters) - Illumina Inc signed a $17 million contract to provide the U.S. health regulator with DNA sequencing product MiSeq and other reagents to help the agency track food-related pathogen outbreaks.

Under the five-year contract, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will use Illumina's MiSeq to conduct whole genome analysis on products and samples of kinds of Salmonella and E. coli bacteria.

The deal comes just weeks after two U.S. health and environment organizations sued the federal government for alleged failure to implement and enforce a new food safety law that could help prevent deaths caused by food-borne illnesses each year.

Over the past year, the United States has had numerous outbreaks of food-borne illnesses tied to salmonella, E. coli and listeria. These outbreaks claim about 3,000 lives every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In February, Yum Brand Inc's Taco Bell chain was linked to a salmonella outbreak that sickened 68 people in 10 states late last year.

With the help of the results from the genome analysis, the FDA will be able to trace the source of the outbreak, the life science tools maker said in a statement.

Illumina shares, which have gained 17 percent in the last one month, were up slightly at $47.91 in early trade on Tuesday on the Nasdaq.

(Reporting by Vidya P L Nathan in Bangalore; Editing by Roshni Menon)

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