A testing method for the detection of foodborne pathogens will cut waiting time from hours to just a few minutes, said its Israel-based developers.
Israeli company TACount, declared that the technology will be able to detect whether potentially harmful bacteria, such as listeria or E.coli are present in food in just a few minutes.
According to the company, the technology will be capable of detecting and counting microorganisms in a matter of minutes.
Current methods for the detection of pathogens in food and beverages can take up to several days with the use of petri plates – increasing the chances of a contaminated product reaching the market.
The technology was developed initally for the testing of water purity, but TACount intend to expand the method to food and possibly pharmaceutical testing.
Improved response time
According to the company, the method will work in a similar way to a pregnancy test – giving a quick indication of pathogen’s present in the sample.
CEO Isak Duenyas told FoodProductionDaily.com that the technology will allow officials to determine, in just a matter of minutes, whether the sample is fit and safe for consumption.
The company believes this will improve the response time in cases of contamination.
The process of identifying the exact pathogens present will then be determined using other testing methods.
“Initially we developed the process for testing water, but we can develop for different mediums including food,” said Duenyas.
The water testing technology, which will be commercially available in 2012, is the priority but will lead to the development of a method for food testing.
“Before we develop a process for the testing of food, we want to ensure that we have developed a method to detect all major pathogens in water.”
"As soon as we achieve what we aimed for with water testing, we will turn our attentions to food, where we will adapt the technology to detect potentially deadly pathogens such as E.coli and listeria,” added Duenyas.
Low food safety confidence
The company’s wesbite added: “TACount intends to replace the conventional method of cell culture that takes several hours to a few days, by providing an equivalent count in a matter of minutes.”
“By detecting a microbial infection in minutes instead of days, it significantly reduces the response time to such an event.”
A recent spate of food contamination outbreaks means that scrutiny on food safety has never been keener.
A listeria outbreak in the US, which has been linked to tainted Jensen Farms cantaloupes, has left 29 people dead and a further 139 people infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The outbreak is the worst foodborne contamination since US food safety records began, equaling a 1985 listeriosis outbreak, and the worst since 1924.
Elsewhere, 50 people died and over 4,000 were infected in Germany earlier this year after E.coli-tainted sprouted seeds entered the food supply.