Purdue University researchers have developed a system that speeds salmonella and other foodborne pathogen detection.
Researchers at the West Lafayette, Ind., university created a continuous cell concentration device that could allow technicians at food processing plants to screen food samples for pathogens within a single work shift, according to a news release.
Concentrating the number of cells in test samples is the first step in detecting foodborne pathogens.
The new system allows researchers to complete the concentration step within an hour compared to a day in the standard method now in commercial use, according to the release.
The machine more quickly concentrates pathogens by using hollow thread-like fibers that filter out the cells and represent a potential new tool for speedier detection, according to the release.
“This approach begins to address the critical need for the food industry for detecting food pathogens within six hours or less,” Michael Ladisch, a Purdue professor of agricultural and biological engineering, said in the release. “Ideally, you want to detect foodborne pathogens in one work shift, from start to finish, which means extracting the sample, concentrating the cells and detection.”
A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report points to a lack of recent progress in reducing foodborne infections and highlights the need for improved prevention.
Though many foodborne illnesses have declined in the past 15 years, the number of laboratory-confirmed salmonella cases did not change significantly in 2012 compared with 2006 to 2008, according to the release.
The researchers’ findings are detailed in a research paper to appear in November in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.