A sensor capable of collecting and detecting Listeria monocytogenes on food industry surfaces is being tested by scientists at the University of Southampton.
The device, created from the Biolisme project set up in 2009, is designed to sample single cells and biofilms.
Compressed air and water is used to remove the cells before they are introduced to an antibody. If Listeria monocytogenes is present, cells react with the antibody to produce a florescent signal, which is detected by a special camera.
Current techniques take days of testing in labs, but the device aims to collect and detect the pathogen on location within three to four hours.
Traditional methods where sample cells are cultivated in labs, are flawed, according to the researchers/
They said ‘stressed’ cells will not grow in cultures, producing negative results despite the bacteria being present, live and potentially harmful.
Alternative techniques, based on molecular methods, will detect all cell types, but don’t differentiate between live and harmless dead cells, which can remain after disinfection.
The prototype sensor has been finalised in France and field trials are testing the device before it is demonstrated in food factories.