Company develops fast E. coli test

06/24/2011 12:24:00 PM
Chris Koger

An Arkansas company has developed a test for E. coli it says is faster and more thorough than other tests.

Little Rock-based Litmus Rapid-B LLC (LRB) recently put its new technology on the market in a limited way, with a full marketing campaign and bigger roll-out to follow in the next few months, said Brian Umberson, the company’s sales and marketing director.

The new LRB machines can conduct E. coli tests on products in 5 to 8 hours, compared to 8 to 24 hours with other tests, Umberson said.

Environmental tests can be done in 15 to 30 minutes.

The new LRB test is more sensitive than other tests because it can identify the presence of E. coli at the level of individual cells, Umberson said.

Other tests check for E. coli only at the cell colony level, he said.

The company tested its new technology on jalapeno peppers and spinach, among other items.

The technology was initially developed at a Food and Drug Administration lab outside Little Rock.

LRB tweaked the technology and filed its own patents. Then the company took it to the University of Arkansas for independent verification.

“It almost sounded too good to be true,” Umberson said. “That’s why we went to the university to confirm what we had found.”“The collaboration with LRB will allow the Center for Food Safety to continue its tradition of introducing novel technologies and protocols to the food processing industry,” Steven Ricke, director of the University of Arkansas' Center for Food Safety, said in a university news release.



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