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A Next Day Test For All the Bad E. Coli Strains

GeneSeek, the Lincoln, NE-based unit of Neogen that traced the linage and genetics behind the first U.S. case of mad cow disease in 2003, is back in the news with a rapid test for all the important strains of E. coli.

Called NeoSEEK, the test uses a DNA detection method to identify the presence of any of the seven most common strains of toxin-producing E. coli in the U.S — O157; O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, and O145.

NeoSEEK says it will provide next-day test results and that the test can be adapted to detect almost any bacterium in any food sample, including the rare E. coli O104:H4 currently plaguing Europe.

GeneSeek, a commercial agricultural genetics laboratory housed at the University of Nebraska Technology Park, was acquired by the food and animal safely firm, Neogen, in April 2010.

“The NeoSEEK food safety technology is exactly the type of technology we envisioned developing when we acquired GeneSeek,” said James Herbert, Neogen’s chairman and CEO, in a news release. “GeneSeek has been very successful in employing DNA genotyping technology for animal applications. Food safety applications are natural extensions of that technology. As recent worldwide food recalls have clearly shown, regulators and the food industry need a rapid, DNA-definitive test for bacterial pathogens. NeoSEEK provides that DNA-definitive test result.”

The NeoSEEK technology uses mass spectrometry-based multiplexing to develop a “DNA bar code” for bacteria in a food sample, and then compares those results with the known genetic makeup of the target E. coli strains to identify and differentiate the target strains. NeoSEEK assays a total of 71 independent genetic markers to detect and identify, which provides results much sooner than conventional cultural methods. The method allows a limit of detection far more sensitive than existing rapid methods for the pathogens.

The Lincoln Star Journal reports that the expanding GeneSeek has taken another 2,000 square feet of space at the Big Red Technology Park since the year began.

E. coli O157:H7 has been banned in U.S. meat since 1994.  The Obama Administration is currently deciding whether to also ban an additional six common toxin-producing strains.

Whether sufficient testing regimes exist to support such a ban has been an issue, but GeneSeek and other commercial services may be making the availability of testing a non-issue.

As recently as mid June, the University of Arkansas announced its Litmus Rapid B (LRB) test, also for detecting pathogenic E. coli bacteria.

© Food Safety News
  • Brian Umberson

    The LITMUS RAPID-B e.coli 0157 product test provides the sensitive and accurate test that can change food safety. LRB offers better than culture plate sensitivity, counts cells not colonies, counts live and dead cells so you can determine efficacy of interventions, and does all of this in less than 6 hours. The LRB environmental test (15 minutes) is sensitive enough to not require enrichment for process control applications. Process control and efficacy assessment can be done real time. Imagine how this could impact food safety?

  • Brian, let’s be clear here. The Litmus Rapid-B test detects and counts microbes at a level of 1CFU/100microliters (or 10 CFU/mL). The usual level of sensitivity required for pathogens such as Salmonella and E. coli O157 is 1 CFU/25g of sample. There is no way the Litmus Rapid-B will replace enrichment for finished product and ingredient testing.

  • Brian, let’s be clear here. The Litmus Rapid-B test detects and counts microbes at a level of 1CFU/100microliters (or 10 CFU/mL). The usual level of sensitivity required for pathogens such as Salmonella and E. coli O157 is 1 CFU/25g of sample. There is no way the Litmus Rapid-B will replace enrichment for finished product and ingredient testing.

  • Brian Umberson

    Phyllis,
    No you are incorrect. We detect down to 10-0 (single cell) level in our product test. The environmental test WHEN USED IN PROCESS CONTROL (see above) does not require enrichment for the vast majority of companies, as a result of the sensitivity without enrichment. You are correct in that the environmental test would require enrichment IF you wanted single cell detection in your swab apps.
    Thanks,
    Brian

  • Brian Umberson

    Phyllis,
    I would welcome the opportunity to change your opinion.
    Brian
    bumberson@litmusgti.com