The pathogen responsible for a precooked chicken recall last summer will become easier to detect in ready-to-eat meats, thanks to a new biosensor developed by scientists at Purdue University.
A team of food scientists has developed a sensor that can detect the potentially deadly bacteria Listeria monocytogenes in less than 24 hours at concentrations as low as 1,000 cells per milliliter of fluid - an amount about the size of a pencil eraser. The sensor also is selective enough to recognize only the species monocytogenes. "The selectivity, sensitivity and rapidity of this sensor represent a vast improvement over the types of test kits that are currently available commercially," said Arun Bhunia, associate professor of food microbiology and one of the sensors developers. "Taken together, those qualities make this research an important contribution in the field of food safety."
Listeriosis, the illness caused by consuming Listeria-contaminated foods like deli meats or cheese, leads to higher rates of hospitalization and mortality than any other foodborne illness, said Tao Geng, research associate in the department of food science and the sensors co-developer. "The mortality rate for people with listeriosis is very high, and for this reason, the FDA has a zero-tolerance rule for Listeria. There should be none at all in any ready-to-eat products," he said.
Jennifer Cutraro | EurekAlert!
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