The fight against pathogenic microorganisms that infect food every day in some parts of the world is turning out to be increasingly difficult in spite of modern knowledge gained over the functioning of these bugs. Recent findings that bacteria can also think and plan for their protection from hostile environment is a revelation with far reaching consequences. It is in this context that development of newer and faster testing techniques and advanced instrumentation assumes critical significance. The development of a comparatively faster method (SEA Test) for detecting Staphylococcus Enterotoxin A, one of the major causes of food poisoning, with out involving culturing or use of lab animals, is considered a break through.
According to the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the US, "the turnaround time of 48 hours for the SEA test is "comparatively fast. Currently, regulatory agencies generally need to culture a bacterial contaminant before issuing a recall – which can take 3-5 days, said the spokeswoman. The new process is practical, said the body. Experienced technicians can quickly learn how to perform the test using standard laboratory equipment. It is also cheaper than current tests. Using immunomagnetic beads that capture and concentrate the toxin, the cost of the assay is $ 3.88 per assay, which makes it affordable. The new assay is quantitative, reproducible and does not require lab animals".
The significance of this development can be understood when one realizes that suspected foods can be recalled back with in 48 hours by the SEA test or manufactured stocks can be retained for just 2 days to confirm their safety before releasing to the market. Industry can have a sigh of relief because of this new weapon against food poisoning. More such developments will augur well for improving the safety of foods manufactured and marketed by the industry.