These invisible, edible biological tags help track down the cause of E. coli outbreaks

Scientists have a hard time figuring out where food-borne outbreaks come from. This new tracking system makes the detective work easy.

If you’re unlucky enough to eat a salad contaminated with E. coli, it’s possible that you’ll never know the original source of the bug. After one recent outbreak of illnesses linked to leafy greens that ended in December, the CDC said that its investigation couldn’t identify the specific type or brand that had caused the problem. Even if a farm is flagged as the source, it often takes so long for the investigation to be completed that the lettuce isn’t recalled before consumers eat it.

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