The first commercially available real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for Salmonella enteritidis (SE) in poultry eggs provides results in just 27 hours, ten times faster than the 10-day turnaround available with conventional testing methods, according to the manufacturer, Life Technologies Corp.
The faster turnaround time to reach accurate results with this new molecular test not only enables egg producers to easily conform to the FDA’s new stringent testing standards, but also helps limit the negative economic impact associated with SE outbreaks.—
Gene Gregory, United Egg Producers
Life Technologies released the real-time PCR test for SE in mid-January, after receiving an equivalency rating from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizing that its Applied Biosystems TaqMan Salmonella Enteritidis Detection Kit is “equivalent in accuracy, precision and sensitivity to its current standard methods” described in the agency’s Bacteriological Analytical Manual (BAM, December 2007 Edition http://www.fda.gov/Food/ScienceResearch/LaboratoryMethods/BacteriologicalAnalyticalManualBAM/default.htm).
“The faster turnaround time to reach accurate results with this new molecular test not only enables egg producers to easily conform to the FDA’s new stringent testing standards, but also helps limit the negative economic impact associated with SE outbreaks,” said Gene Gregory, president and CEO of the United Egg Producers, in a news release from Life Technologies.
But testing for Salmonella still has a long way to go, said Mike Doyle, PhD, Regents Professor and director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia in Griffin. “I’m impressed by what this company has said it can do, but it’s still not where we need to be. Twenty-seven hours is still pretty long. If you could take it down to 12 hours or less, [or], ideally, in the single digits, then I’d really be impressed.”
Dr. Doyle, who sits on the board of Roka Bioscience, a company that is beginning to develop protocols for RNA-based detection in the food testing market, said such a reduction is feasible. “I don’t want to downplay this new test. It’s definitely a tremendous step forward, especially for the foods today that go right onto the truck,” he said. “Hold and release is typical, and the faster you can release, the better. But with the right assays and tweaking, I think we can get down to more like eight hours.”