A new camera-like detection device now being tested by scientists at the University of Southampton, England, could collect and detect Listeria monocytogenes on food preparation services within a matter of three to four hours, compared with current assays that require more than 24 hours.
Unlike most current methods of Listeria detection, the sensor, designed by Salomé Gião, PhD, and Bill Keevil, PhD, of Southampton’s Centre for Biological Science Unit, does not require an enrichment step. Instead, it uses compressed air and water to sample single cells and biofilms from a surface, and then introduces them to an antibody which reacts to the presence of Listeria and produces a florescent signal.
“The scientific research we have carried out at the University of Southampton has been used by our Biolisme project partners to develop a device which will have major implications for the food industry. By making the process simpler we hope that testing will be conducted more frequently, thereby reducing the chance of infected food having to be recalled or making its way to the consumer,” says Dr. Gião.
A prototype of the sensor is now in trials; the researchers hope to test it in food processing plants soon. It’s the fruit of the labor of the BioliSME project, a consortium of seven partner organizations from five different countries aimed at developing an innovative system to monitor the contamination levels of Listeria in industrial food producing-plants. BioliSME is a two-year project with a budget of more than $1.3 million Euros.
In addition to speedier analysis, the BioliSME team believes that the new sensor will offer improved detection levels and a higher recovery rate for microorganisms.