Foodborne pathogens in processed ready-to-eat products pose a serious threat to consumers with compromised immune system. Sensitive, specific and rapid detection of such pathogens is thus essential at production level to prevent their entrance into the human food chain. Conventional microbiological detection methods simply take too long (2 to 7 days) to detect and identify pathogens in food and no real time data is available. Other traditional testing methods, such as ELISA, are also relatively costly and time-consuming. Traditional methods require the taking of a product sample, its posterior culturing until sufficient microorganisms have been generated to enable ready detection on culture plates. While a number of methods such as PCR may provide faster detection (6-12 hours) they involve complex procedures and highly specialised trained personnel. In today's modern food supply chain, products enter and leave the market within two to three days. Slow traditional analytical methods are clearly deficient as they enable contaminated meat products to reach the market, resulting in human disease and even mortality. Moreover, most analyses need to be carried out in large analytical laboratories as the required instrumentation is expensive and requires highly qualified staff. Only very large farms and slaughterhouses can thus afford to perform regular, on-site, microbiological checks. There is a clear need for a rapid, handheld, easy to use and cost effective microbiological analyser which is tailored and well suited to the needs of the meat industry to enable its use on the processing floor thus allowing rapid process control testing. A biosensor based approach presents a promising and sensitive alternative tool for the detection of low numbers of cells in a question of minutes (with no need for enrichment steps) as opposed to days. Electrochemical methods would also enable the application of more user friendly and cheaper instrumentation.
Call for proposal
See other projects for this call