Portable tool for timely pathogen detection in the food industry
Rapid on-site and field detection of animal virus and bacterial diseases, either for routine screening of farms or for a farm with suspected birds, is extremely important, in view of the current outbreaks in the EU. A new point-of-care (POC) detection technology for detecting Salmonella, Campylobacter and avian influenza virus (AIV), has been developed and tested both internally and externally by ring test. The EU funded VIVALDI project aimed to validate its POC pathogen detection technology in accordance with the requirements of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH).
Portable and easy-to-use pathogen detection system
The VETPOD platform is designed to detect pathogens particularly important for food safety (poultry, pork and beef sector) and animal health (poultry). As a generic technology, the system can easily be modified and adapted for the detection of other animal pathogens included in the WOAH list of notifiable diseases and zoonotic agents, such as the most common foodborne zoonotic pathogens in the EU. The most innovative aspect of VETPOD is that this pathogen detection test can be performed in the field or on site rather than in centralised laboratories. Moreover, it can be performed by non-specialised personnel, like field veterinarians, and quality assurance personnel on food production sites, or even by farmers. Importantly, the time to result (TTR) is short (30-45 minutes), reduced from days to less than an hour, allowing for taking quick action.
One step away from the international market
Research efforts in recent years have been directed towards the development of high-throughput, fast and cheap diagnostic methods that can be used under field conditions as on-site or pen-side tests in disease surveillance and control programmes. However, these methods tend to remain as in-house methods in research laboratories. The challenge in bringing such test tools to the market is to obtain mutual and international recognition of new on-site tests from competent authorities and trade partners. Therefore, the internationally recognised validation guidelines from WOAH and ISO including external ring tests are a key aspect of the validation process. “The commercial partner in the VIVALDI project DNA Diagnostic has applied for recognition of VETPOD as an alternative method for detecting Salmonella in food. The validation body NordVal International has just announced that they have recognised this test, and the official certificate will be issued soon,” states Anders Wolff, project coordinator. When combined with DNA Diagnostic's special propagation method, VETPOD could deliver the TTR in approximately one tenth of the time of the traditional cultivation method. VETPOD is about to be CE approved and put into production and is expected to be introduced to the market during 2023.
The avian influenza virus challenge
“Regarding the detection of AIV, although the diagnostic specificity was equal to 100 % in comparison to the reference method real-time PCR (rt-PCR), the diagnostic sensitivity was 74 %. A higher sensitivity will be required to get official approval to use the system,” admits Wolff. “We have tried many things during the project and now think that we have a solution that we will develop.” Given that the solution involves the change of both the detection principle and the instrument, the project team aspires to further develop an improved instrument and method and validate the detection of AIV with the aim of future EU funding.
VIVALDI, pathogen detection, AIV, avian influenza virus, Salmonella, zoonotic pathogens, POC, point of care, animal production, Campylobacter