Stephanie M. Lee of SFGate.com has written a feature about the innovative technology of DNATrek, a Bay Area strartup that is making bar codes that go directly on fruits and vegetables:
“The technology could solve the enormous challenge of tracing an outbreak’s source — the places where food items are grown, packed and shipped. When people start feeling the symptoms of salmonella or E. coli, many clues about the contaminated product’s origins, such as the shipment boxes, already have disappeared.
The Food and Drug Administration has already recognized the invention as a safe food additive, but for now, the industry does not use it. After large-scale tests that are set to begin next year, DNATrek believes that its tool will emerge as a powerful weapon against food-borne illnesses, which cost the country an estimated $150 billion a year in health-related expenses, and counterfeit food products, which cost the global industry $10 billion to $15 billion annually.
DNATrek suggests that its bar codes may have come in handy in 2012, when an E. coli outbreak caused by contaminated spinach led 13 people to be hospitalized, and in 2011, when 33 Americans died after eating tainted cantaloupe.
“If there’s a problem at home and there’s a piece of the cantaloupe left, you can pick it out of the trash, you can scrub the surface, and all the available information is there and you know exactly where it came from,” said Anthony Zografos, founder and CEO of the self-funded, three-employee startup that expects to close a round of seed funding by the end of the month.”