Once food manufacturers begin looking for Listeria more often, it’s only natural that they will begin to look for faster tests. Traditional means of detecting Listeria involve techniques and processes that take several days to complete while waiting for the return of laboratory results. But new options are emerging. Here are a couple of examples:
- Dr. Carmen Gomes of Texas A&M’s Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering is the inventor of a biosensor chip that can detect Listeria in food samples within two to three minutes. Gomes says that soon the biosensor chip will be able to detect levels as low as one bacterium in a 25-gram sample, or about one ounce. The same technology will be able to detect other pathogens such as E. coli O157:H7. Texas A&M focused first on Listeria because of its ability to thrive at freezing temperatures and because it is the third leading cause of death among foodborne illnesses.
- Sample6 Detect/L is the first in-plant pathogen detection for Listeria that has been approved by USDA and AOAC International, the Association of Official Agricultural Chemists. Within minutes, it can detect as little as one cell of Listeria without enrichment, automatically reading and recording results. Companies such as RLS Logistics in New Jersey, a third-party logistic company, are using Sample6 because it provides in-shift results without enrichment, meaning it no longer needs the services of an outside laboratory but can be run in the plant.
A broad spectrum of food products have been recalled for Listeria contamination during 2015. The difficulty of removing the pathogen once it gets lodged in a food processing plant is causing some manufacturers to step up their search efforts.