Next Generation Sequencing in the food industry

18 March 2020


Next Generation Sequencing

Written by Scientific Lead Riccardo Paone – Dantelabs.com

Riccardo Paone, is a PhD in Medical Biotechnologies. He worked in a bone biopathology Lab.

During his career he had studied processes linking energy metabolism and bone biology, at Columbia University, New York, the role of microvesicles in cell-cell communication, at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, BOKU – Vienna  and Bioinformatics and Human Genomics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Riccardo is currently technology transfer manager at Dante Labs.

The rise of the new millennium has been characterised by new advanced DNA sequencing technologies called Next Generation Sequencing (NGS). NGS, combined with new and powerful bioinformatic approaches are revolutionising the food industry.

Nowadays, NGS allows to perform whole genome sequencing in a very short timeframe, with onfield and real-time characterisation of organisms or food, and allows the most detailed comparison possible so far of individual strains.

Dante Labs is at the forefront of this revolution offering the fastest turnaround times with the most competitive global pricing. All the analysis is performed in the L’Aquila labs in Italy, in full compliance with GDPR requirements.

The two main current applications for the food industry are:

  • The use of next generation sequencing for improving food safety via microbiome analysis, studies of microbial communities
  • Whole genome analysis testing for food authenticity

NGS methodologies move beyond the binary yes-no response of traditional testing, and enables you to get much more done, with far less effort and cost, generating more actionable insights for interventions and root cause analysis.

NGS microbiology testing: a growing market

The global rapid microbiology testing market continues to grow at a steady pace. The market is projected to reach $5.09 billion by 2023, up from $3.45 billion in 2018. Increased demand for food microbiology testing—and pathogen detection in particular—continues to drive the overall growth of this sector. The volume of food microbiology tests totalled 1.14 billion tests in 2016, up 15% from 2013. NGS-based platforms offer the ability to see what was previously impossible with PCR and other technologies. NGS generates millions of sequences simultaneously, enabling greater resolution into the microbial ecology of food and environmental surfaces.

For example, NGS approaches helped Canadian and US authorities in 2018, when a rather large E. coli outbreak affected several different types of lettuce. In all, about 62 people got sick in the United States, with another 29 affected in Canada. The outbreak was traced back to a farm in California thanks to a specific DNA fingerprint in the E. coli. It started in a water reservoir and spread to the nearby crops.

By integrating an NGS-based platform into routine pathogen testing, one can begin to build a microbial database of the production facility, which can be used to distinguish resident pathogens and/or spoilage microbes from transient ones. This information can be used to monitor and improve existing or new sanitation practices as well as provide valuable information on ingredient quality and safety.

Dante Labs: pioneering NGS adoption

With the steady decline of cost, increased reliability and rapid turnaround times NGS technology is deemed to quickly become the golden standard in food quality control. As a leader in NGS services, Dante Labs is making such analysis accessible to a much wider audience. What was once an expensive and lengthy test is now becoming a much more viable option.Thanks to an innovative business model and the most cutting-edge technology Dante Labs’ NGS services can now empower thousands of small and medium producers and manufactures. This will contribute in revolutionising the overall global standards in food safety, traceability and authenticity.


We want to thank Riccardo Paone for his time and sharing his knowledge about new advanced DNA sequencing technologies called Next Generation Sequencing. Have you experienced any relatable developments within the food industry? Please, share your story with us via info@foodsciencescommunity.com or call us on +31 (0)630076674.