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Fast and sensitive test for E.coli in beef, lettuce and spinach

24-Feb-2010
Last updated on 24-Feb-2010 at 13:08 GMT

A new test to check for E.coli 0157:H7 contamination in beef, lettuce and spinach is both speedy and sensitive, said manufacturer DuPont Qualicon.

The company said its new BAX System assay uses real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology to quickly detect all known E. coli O157:H7, even atypical strains that can be missed by some other tests.

Developed in collaboration with USDA Agricultural Research Service, the test was validated on industry standard sizes of ground beef, beef trim, lettuce and spinach that were spiked at 1-2 cells per portion.

“It was found to perform as well or better than the reference culture methods,” said DuPont Qualicon.

E. coli O157:H7 is a foodborne pathogen that can cause serious, sometimes fatal, illness at very low infectious doses - in as few as 10 organisms.

The company’s senior scientist, Dr Frank Burns, said E. coli 0157:H7 can be difficult to detect at low levels.

“This new BAX System assay is an extremely accurate and robust molecular method,” he added. “Its rapid reaction time allows for quick test completion, which is essential for customers who hold perishable products while waiting for test results before shipping.”

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