Crop Biotech Update reports that researchers from the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (BIOTECH), at the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) have developed a DNA Amplification System (DAS) kit that is a pathogen specific, accurate and highly sensitive system.
The system utilizes polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology, continued the researchers.
They maintain that the kit, the development of which was part funded by the Philippines Department of Science and Technology, can be utilized by the food industry as well as government regulatory agencies, health institutions and quarantine and service laboratories.
According to the scientists, their technology is based on the principal that after binding to very specific primers, small fragments of the DNA segments of the pathogenic microorganisms are amplified into million-fold copies, thus allowing for the detection of the presence of the pathogenic microorganism.
Last week, the product developers provided training to food manufacturers as well as other sectors on the use of the DAS kits.
Faster time-to-results urged
Meanwhile, diagnostic test consultant and Strategic Consulting president, Tom Weschler, recently told FoodProductionDaily.com that greater speed in pathogen detection within processing plants rather than a reliance on enhanced regulation is the key to reducing product contamination from pathogens such as Salmonella.
Last month, the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found it had knowingly shipped peanut products tainted with a salmonella strain that was linked to at least 677 reported illnesses and nine deaths.
Official court documents listed more than 475 businesses with claims against the PCA, including processors, manufacturers and growers, far more than the company’s own estimate of 100-199 creditors when it filed for bankruptcy on February 12.
“There is an immediate need for detection kits that shorten the time-to-result for food processors to help them take corrective measures much faster at production line level, while ensuring that retailers and consumers still get their products in the fastest time possible,” claims Weschler.
He added that improvements in sampling concentration methods by microbiology technology manufacturers would make it easier and less time consuming to determine pathogen presence in food products.
Following on from the peanut outbreak, the FDA recommended that manufacturers only use suppliers that have proven that they adhere to good manufacturing practices.
However, if 'questions have been raised concerning the potential presence of salmonella,' or if no such information is available, the agency urges manufacturers to ensure their own practices would reduce any presence of salmonella to below levels where it would pose a health risk.
In its guidance to food processors, the FDA also notes that although salmonella is generally destroyed by heat, salmonella in peanut products, which have low moisture content, is much more heat-resistant, and therefore requires considerable expertise to guarantee that foods are adequately treated.