Traditionally it takes days together to detect the infections in food, qualitatively identify the microorganism(s) and then quantify the extent of contamination. Unless this type of detailed information is available to the management, no decision can be taken regarding any action necessary in the interest of the consumers and the reputation of the industry. Recent developments in the field of quick testing for pathogens give sufficient basis for optimism that eventually low cost methods will be available soon to test the foods within a few minutes. The 3-minute Anthrax sensor which emerged to counteract bio terrorism threat is a pointer in that direction
Development of commercial kits than can detect and quantify the contaminants will go a long way to enable the industry to introduce stricter monitoring of foods, especially in fresh produce. "Beacon Biotechnology, LLC reports the formation of its subsidiary, Beacon Food Safety, LLC, which is developing a DNA/RNA test that is pathogen specific and will provide accurate, low cost testing for the food industry. The BrightSPOT™ Food Safety Test is disposable and easy to use, enabling immediate, highly sensitive, quantitative detection of multiple food borne pathogens simultaneously.
The difficulty is that pathogen population may be less than 100 cfu per gm in the product but presence of other non-pathogenic species makes the task more difficult. The matter assumes critical dimension in the light of recent spate of Salmonella contamination episodes in the US.