Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Simple, Rapid Test Can Detect Tainted Milk Supply

11.09.2009
If bad guys or bad bugs are poisoning food, maybe some good bugs could spill the beans.

Amer AbuGhazaleh, a researcher from Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s College of Agricultural Sciences, and Salam Ibrahim, a food microbiologist from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, have shown that the combination of certain bacteria and a common purple dye can reveal the presence of toxins in milk in just a few hours.

“To date, detecting the presence of toxins or pesticides has only been possible by sending samples to a laboratory and waiting a few days for the results,” AbuGhazaleh said.

“An important step toward improving the safety of our dairy supply would be the development of an effective, simple and rapid test that would allow farmers or processors to detect the presence of foreign substances.”

AbuGhazaleh and Ibrahim first began thinking about developing a way to detect tainted milk quickly in 2007, after a series of food recalls shook the country.

“We were surprised at how much damage that caused, and people were so frightened,” AbuGhazaleh remembered.

The pair also harked back to fears, generated after 9/11, of mass poisonings caused by bioterrorists.

“It seemed like it wouldn’t be hard to contaminate the food supply -- intentionally or unintentionally -- especially with the poor level of security on the majority of farms today,” AbuGhazleh said.

They started with milk in part because AbuGhazaleh specializes in dairy cattle. But they also knew the milk supply was particularly vulnerable.

“A single load of contaminated milk from one dairy could spread that contamination quickly across a wide area as it mixed with milk from other dairies at the processing plant,” AbuGhazaleh noted.

After tossing around some ideas for a simple detection system, the scientists decided to focus on the bacteria that ferment lactose (milk’s sugars), producing lactic acid as they go.

“For one thing, these bacteria already exist in milk, so if you add some, you’re not doing anything strange,” AbuGhazaleh said.

"Second, they produce a change over time (the lactic acid) that we could monitor. If we didn’t see the change, we would know something was wrong.”

They began in 2008 with a few bacterial strains they already had and cyanide, also readily available. Experiments showed not only that the toxin could slow or stop lactic acid production but that this effect increased with the toxic load. Further, the effect appeared in less than four hours.

They then added purple dye to milk samples containing both toxins and bacteria and to samples containing only bacteria. After eight hours, dye in the non-toxic milk turned yellow, indicating the presence of increased lactic acid, while dye in the toxin-laden milk retained its original purple.

“This kind of color test could be performed by farmers themselves,” AbuGhazleh said.

“They could add the bacteria and the dye to a sample, leave it alone for a little while and then come back to see if there is any change in the color. If there isn’t, there are problems with the milk.

“The test won’t tell us what sort of toxin is in the milk; it only tells us there is something wrong. It’s like an alarm.”

Such an alarm could save society billions of dollars. In 2005, Stanford University researcher Lawrence M. Wein and then-graduate student Yifan Liu developed a mathematical model predicting what would happen if terrorists slipped four grams of botulinum toxin -- roughly the weight of a sugar cube -- into a single dairy holding tank, tanker truck or processing silo in California.

Their model showed that 400,000 people would sicken; some of those would die. The cost of treating the victims, the researchers said, would run to “tens of billions of dollars” -- and that does not include the further costs of tracing, recalling and discarding milk nor the effect of reduced milk purchases by frightened consumers.

With funding from the Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research, AbuGhazaleh and Ibrahim now are expanding their study to include a wider range of bacteria and toxins.

“We want to see if there are bacteria that are more sensitive to toxins, which would allow us to see the effect in less time,” AbuGhazaleh said.

“We also want to find that ‘universal’ bacteria that would be sensitive to a wide range of toxins.”

AbuGhazleh presented the preliminary results in 2008 at the annual meeting of the American Dairy Sciences Association in Indianapolis.

“There was a lot of interest, particularly in potential commercial applications,” he said.

“That’s the main thrust of this project, but long term, we think the concept -- using naturally occurring microbes to detect contamination -- might extend to other food industries.”

K.C. Jaehnig | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.siu.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Penn studies find promise for innovations in liquid biopsies
30.03.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

nachricht 'On-off switch' brings researchers a step closer to potential HIV vaccine
30.03.2017 | University of Nebraska-Lincoln

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

'On-off switch' brings researchers a step closer to potential HIV vaccine

30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

Penn studies find promise for innovations in liquid biopsies

30.03.2017 | Health and Medicine

An LED-based device for imaging radiation induced skin damage

30.03.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>