It’s manufactured in Germany by Roka Bioscience, which has adapted its medical technology for food safety uses. It became available March 3.
“The Atlas will be used for all of PrimusLabs’ pathogen testing,” said Joseph Myers, a spokesman. “Our many hundreds of clients’ samples containing all types of produce samples will be run on the Atlas System this year.”
It combines three detection technologies.
Initially, a magnetic capture step latches onto target material and washes away all else. Then the genetic material is copied repeatedly — up to a billion copies in less than 30 minutes, according to PrimusLabs. Finally, a probe attaches to each copy and emits light — comparable to the emission of light by fireflies. The amount of light is measured.
“These properties result in greater testing accuracy when compared with other commonly used methods,” Myers said.
Atlas can be used on all types of produce as well as environmental samples.
The capture step uses magnetic beads to isolate pathogen ribosomal RNA strands. Targeting those strands virtually eliminates false negatives, according to the company. The amplification of genetic material is facilitated by a surplus — up to 10,000 in fresh produce — of ribosomal RNA over DNA.
The Atlas System assays for pathogens like salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Shiga toxigenic E. coli and listeria have been certified by the AOAC Research Institute.
“The ideas behind this technology are not new, but the way that Roka Bioscience has combined them into the Atlas System is what caught our interest,” Adam Hughes, assistant director of microbiology for PrimusLabs, said in a news release.