Natural Foods Merchandiser

New technology speeds food-safety testing

An Arkansas company and the National Center for Toxicological Research have developed a test for pathogens such as E. coli, salmonella and listeria that provides immediate results.

The test, called Rapid-B, consists of a one-time-use swab kit and a computer that indicates pass or fail results, said Ted Moskal, president of Litmus-Rapid-B, a subsidiary of Litmus and the commercial partner for the NCTR. "The test equipment that reads the swabs and displays results is about twice the size of a standard computer printer, so it can be placed in an office at the plant," Moskal said. "And you don't need a microbiologist to use it. It's easy."

The current tests for food-borne pathogens require off-site laboratory analysis and take approximately 48 hours, according to Moskal. The company's pilot testing found that Rapid-B enables food processors to screen raw materials that come into the plant, monitor plant sanitation conditions and test product samples with results in 15 minutes or less.

Litmus-Rapid-B expects wide distribution of this product within the next six to nine months. "We're in negotiations with a number of food processors in a wide range of markets, from fresh produce and protein to ice cream and eggs," Moskal said.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVIII/number 5/p.10

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