New pathogen detection system fastest and most comprehensive, says company

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

A new food pathogen detection system that its manufacturers claim is the fastest and most comprehensive available has been awarded its US patent.

Hanson Technologies Inc said the patented expertise has been incorporated into its existing OmniFresh 1000 System for the detection of food pathogens. The US patent entitled ‘Agricultural Screening System and Method for Detection of Infectious Microorganisms’​ covers the company’s method for screening fruits, vegetables nuts and other plant material for human and animal consumption for the presence of pathogenic microorganisms.

Entire lots screened

The enhanced system is capable of screening entire lots of fresh produce in near real-time for contamination by E.coli 0157:H7.​ It can also be used to test for other bacteria, including salmonella. Test results are provided in a fraction of the time compared to conventional lab testing methods that sample only a small percentage of produce lots, said Hanson.

The company said the OmniFresh 1000 represents a “significant improvement”​ in pathogen screening.

“The Company's technology has the capability to screen entire lots of fresh produce with a 99.8 per cent confidence versus less than 6 per cent for conventional methods,”​ said a Hanson statement. “In addition it provides results in two hours or less rather 12 to 36 hours providing significantly greater operational efficiency. The screening is the most comprehensive and fastest system solution available.”

Integration into production lines

Company CEO William Hanson said: "The patent for rapidly identifying microorganisms that may be present in produce validates the superiority of our UltraRapid technology, and exemplifies our ground-breaking role in improved pathogen detection and greater freshness."

The system is an automated, simple to use and integrated one that can be fully installed in-line with standard processing equipment. It can also be customised to meet specific screening needs of food growers and producers, added the company.

Food safety’s higher profile

In recent years, the issue of food safety has raced up the political agenda after a series of contamination scandals involving spinach, tomatoes and peanuts. Government figures say up to 5,000 people die each year from eating contaminated food. A high-profile bill to tighten food safety was passed by the House of Representatives in July and is awaiting debate by the Senate.

This week, the US Food and Drug Administration said food manufacturers and processors must report potentially dangerous food products to the agency within 24 hours through an on-line registry.

Yesterday, the US Government unveiled a new food safety website for consumers that deals with critical food and food safety information, food recall alerts, and the latest news from the key agencies.

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