Saturday, August 21, 2010


E,coli O157:H7 is a dreaded bacteria in the western world and many recent food poisoning episodes have been traced to this pathogen. Though presence of coli forms of bacteria in potable water or food is taken as an indication of contamination with fecal matter and possibly many pathogens with possible adverse health consequences. Food industry is concerned about safety of the products from this virulent strain and invests lot of money to preempt food poisoning out breaks and costly product recalls. As assaying for E.coli O157:H7 is a laborious and time consuming process, considerable logistical challenges are faced by the industry. In this context the latest quick testing technology launched recently can serve the industry admirably by meeting their immediate needs.

"Life Technologies, a provider of innovative life science solutions, announced at the International Association of Food Protection annual meeting the launch of the MicroSEQ(R) E. coli O157:H7 assay, designed to detect the deadly strain of Escherichia coli (E. coli), using the company's industry-leading real-time PCR technology. Life Technologies Corporation is a global biotechnology tools company dedicated to improving the human condition. Life Technologies customers do their work across the biological spectrum, working to advance personalized medicine, regenerative science, molecular diagnostics, agricultural and environmental research, and 21st century forensics. Market Watch reported that Life Technologies also announced that the assay has secured Performance Tested Methods(SM) certification from the AOAC Research Institute for detection of E. coli O157:H7. The new product will enable more effective monitoring of the food supply for contamination and help ensure food safety. E. coli O157:H7 can cause severe illness, even death and has been responsible for significant outbreaks of food poisoning across the globe. Culture-based assays, long considered the gold standard for pathogen detection, can take up to five days to yield results. The MicroSEQ E. coli O157:H7 detection assay is highly specific and sensitive and can be run in as little as eight hours. "Food companies and food testing organizations are seeking validated tools to help safeguard the public from organisms such as E. coli O157:H7," said Sharon Brunelle, technical consultant at AOAC Research Institute. "Life Technologies has demonstrated that the MicroSEQ E. coli O157:H7 Detection Kit performs as well or better than the ISO and USDA reference methods for a variety of foods, earning Performance Tested Methods certification from the AOAC Research Institute."

Whether this new analytical tool will be of any relevance in countries other than the US remains to be seen since practically no case of O157:H7 contamination has been reported out side this country. Though focus on this particular strain is understandable, the dangers posed by six other versions of E.coli, supposedly as virulent as the O157:H7, are slowly emerging and how far this method can be adapted to their detection also needs to be looked into.


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