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Pathogen testing fuels a need for speed

By Jenni Spinner+

06-May-2014

Speed in pathogen tests, such as the RapidChek line from Romer Labs, can boost operational efficiency.
Speed in pathogen tests, such as the RapidChek line from Romer Labs, can boost operational efficiency.

Saving time required to conduct pathogen tests means safer food and better operational efficiency, according to Romer Labs.

When it comes to testing food samples, time is of the essence. Tim Lawruk of Romer Labs talked to FoodProductionDaily on the importance of speedy results in protecting public health, and a food operation's bottom line.

 Why is speed important in pathogen testing?

The ability to determine the safety of a food product hours, or even days, faster provides a significant cost savings in terms of storage costs, shipping, product shelf life, and overtime. For example, a processor of food products that follows a test-and-hold policy would have to have storage capacity for two days’ production if they are using a 48-hour culture method, compared to only one day’s capacity if using a rapid 24-hour method.

What are some of the most pressing concerns food safety professionals face in the testing arena?

As the pressure for more pathogen testing increases, food companies look for more cost-effective testing solutions to meet budgetary requirements. As a food processor, choosing the best pathogen detection method can be a very difficult decision; the method should have a meaningful impact on the total cost-in-use for your food safety program but most importantly, provide maximum assurance of reliability in your test results.

Also, meeting regulatory requirements becomes even more important as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) nears implementation. Romer Labs’ RapidChek and RapidChek SELECT pathogen detection systems were developed to deliver the required time-to-result and accuracy while also providing documented cost savings, faster product release, ease-of-use, batch size scalability, and third-party certifications.

How can technology boost operational workflow?

The workflow for RapidChek pathogen tests is usually very streamlined. A RapidChek test for Listeria would include the detection of the pathogen directly from the primary enrichment using a simple lateral flow test strip, whereas conventional culture methods require streaking to selective agar plates and further incubation time. The agar plates are usually examined for typical colonies which, due to its subjectivity, require a trained microbiologist.

The simplicity of the RapidChek system also means there are less transfers and less chance for operator error.