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Faster Salmonella detection in supply chain focus of CT startup

A Connecticut company has reportedly raised more than $12 million in startup capital to further develop and refine its technology to more quickly detect foodborne pathogens in the supply chain.

Ancera Inc., based in in Branford, CT, plans to launch this summer a small printer-sized instrument called the Piper to help identify the presence of pathogens on produce, poultry or other foods.

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-salmonella-concept-illustration-depicting-sign-image35373118The system is designed to assist quality control staff without any biology training to check for Salmonella and other contaminants at various points in the supply chain, according to CEO and company founder Arjun Ganesan.

He said Ancera’s mission is to “prevent food waste, recalls or worse, the spread of foodborne illnesses.”

The Piper is said to be able to detect and quantify Salmonella in a test sample within one to eight hours. Typically, sample testing requires growing bacteria by using a culture such as agar and sending it to a lab to quantify pathogen levels. This process can take 30-50 hours or more.

Ganesan said his company’s approach “sorts microbes in a food sample and pushes them up against a sensor agent, then takes pictures of the microbes, counting the number of them in a sample.” It is then not necessary to wait for cells to grow into quantities large enough for sensors to detect them, he noted.

“Every other platform on the market destroys cells in the testing process. We gather cells and do not destroy them, which means you can take them immediately into sequencing, and figure out the root cause of your problem, which is to say exactly where the Salmonella originated in your supply chain,” Ganesan said.

The company plans to use the new funding for research and development and also to adapt its systems to test for other pathogens on poultry and in other food items.  In addition to spoilage bacteria and organisms of public health interest, the company plans to have capability to test for pathogenic E.coli, Campylobacter, and Listeria.

Ancera’s latest investors reportedly include Glass Capital Management, a family fund based in Florida; Packers Sanitation Services (PSSI), Metabiota and other investors who are not named. PSSI provides cleaning and sanitation services to food processors and Metabiota does risk assessments and data analysis for companies and government agencies relating to biological threats.

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