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Metabiota: Data platform helps surface critical issues

By Joe Whitworth+

04-Aug-2016
Last updated on 04-Aug-2016 at 13:24 GMT2016-08-04T13:24:26Z

Metabiota plans add 2 or 3 customers this year to fine tune and develop the system. © iStock/LeoWolfert
Metabiota plans add 2 or 3 customers this year to fine tune and develop the system. © iStock/LeoWolfert

Metabiota has launched an analytics service at the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) Annual Meeting.

The Food Risk Management platform gives producers, suppliers and retailers the ability to identify, analyze and mitigate risks and ensure a company’s quality and safety programs have impact across the supply chain. 

It includes end-to-end supply chain monitoring, identification of key drivers of risk and allows proactive risk management and mitigation and identification of key risk drivers.

Poultry focus

Robert Mann, president of Metabiota, said it was for the livestock industry with an initial focus on poultry.

“We worked with Foster Farms two years ago during the Salmonella outbreak and helped them understand what happened and how to learn from it. We are targeting poultry first, swine is a growth area after and it is highly applicable to beverage and produce," he told FoodQualityNews.

“We had never been in the US food industry before, we worked with US government and EU insurance companies. We worked with Munich Re and Swiss Re on building the software and analytics engines to look at risk.

“We received investment about one to one and a half years ago and expanded our engineering team, before we were operating under the radar.”

Mann said the company had three papers accepted for the IAFP meeting and was on a panel discussion on food risk with Foster Farms, CDC and Walmart so there was no better time to launch the system.

“What we’ve seen at the meeting is there is not a lot of new pathogen detection technology out there, it is mainly PCR-based which has limitations," he said.

“Companies collect data but it is siloed, they are not integrating so the manager can see all in the supply chain. You start off entering data in our system, it is agnostic to whatever systems they have already and once we see data we help them on when and where to test, where do they have problems and not have problems, so they can focus on problem areas.”

Add customers to fine tune system

Mann said data sources come from excel or spreadsheet to more advanced means and can be from the accounting department, shipping or temperature records or pH in rinse areas.

“The plan for this year is to add two or three customers to fine tune the system and develop it. To let them see the data, not just look at numbers but look at scenarios we model,” he said.

“It is actionable - we can trace back the origin of an outbreak or Salmonella event to breeding house and identify where the pathogen has moved through the supply chain and users can show customers with our data they are operating a safe facility.

“We bring our own team to help implement the system, [the time to notice a difference] is going to be dependent on the complexity of operation and how well data is categorised but I would say from a few months to a year.

“The demand is to identify where high risk is, consumer demand for antibiotic free and retailers such as Walmart want greater transparency, companies have spent millions of dollars without knowing where to target. We reduce data to critical factors and surface critical issues.”

The company’s footprint includes operations in 30 countries with offices in San Francisco, Washington, China, Canada, Sierra Leone, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Partnership with Ancera

Metabiota also unveiled a partnership with Ancera, which combines Metabiota’s analytics and Ancera’s near real-time diagnostics.

Being in the infectious disease business the firm gets to see every diagnostic device, said Mann.

“We saw Ancera and it was different, we had scientists look at it and they went to their lab. It has a unique and strong patent protection. We are the analytics partner so the data will flow into our system. We will continue to look at new emerging technology to add to our capability.”

Ancera unveiled its single-cell transport technology at IAFP in St. Louis.

The firm recently raised $8.9m to commercialize the technology and Glass Capital led the funding round with Packers Sanitation Services (PSSI), which offers cleaning and sanitation services for the food industry and Metabiota.

The patented MagDrive technology, developed at Yale University, powers the Piper platform by manipulating, sorting and enumerating viable pathogens directly from food samples.

Arjun Ganesan, co-founder and CEO of Ancera, said Metabiota applies advanced analytics to food production.

“The food industry is ready to innovate - and this partnership signals our joint commitment to helping these companies increase efficiencies and decrease pathogen risk for the global community.”

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