A funding program has been launched in Canada aimed at the development of tests to detect E.coli during food production.
More than $1m is available over 18 months for one or two projects to develop a genomic-based detection methodology that is rapid, sensitive, specific, affordable and field-deployable.
Current turn-around time for most testing methods is about 10 hours and is typically conducted in a laboratory.
Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions, Genome Alberta on behalf of ALMA, Genome Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs are involved in the project.
An investigator associated with a Canadian academic institution will lead or co-lead the project and the team may engage scientists within academic institutions, provincial or federal research centres, private industry or non-profit research establishments.
New testing methods and technologies from the program will complement other national and international research initiatives and contribute to the development of national baselines, surveillance and monitoring of E.coli across the country.
Verlyn Olson, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said: "We must continuously explore new technology and ideas to enhance our food safety processes to ensure we are providing consumers with the safest, high quality food products available.
“Improving E.coli detection methods will result in important safety enhancements for our meat processing industry."
The funding program aims for continuous improvement in the safety of the food supply and create long-term health benefits.
“This applied research initiative is an example of how new genomics-based technologies can be used to help detect pathogens in meat production and food processing,” said Dr David Bailey, chief executive officer of Genome Alberta.
Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions will contribute $250,000, Genome Alberta on behalf of ALMA, $500,000 and Genome Canada $250,000 with support from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
Dr. Stan Blade, chief executive officer of Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions, said: “That’s the strength of this funding initiative, and we’re confident this research will lead to a rapid test that will assist the food processing industry with real time decision-making to ensure that Canadian food products are safe.”
The deadline for submission of a letter of intent (LOI) to the “2012/13 Program on Research and Innovation Leading to Rapid Detection of Pathogenic E.coli” is 14 January 2013, 2:00pm MST.