Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A new approach to fast detection of bacteria for food and pharma industry

Food poisoning by infectious and pathogenic bacteria of belonging to a number of species is reported to be affecting the lives of millions of people across the world. It is not that food industry is irresponsible enough to let this happen knowingly or willingly. In spite of high levels of precaution and preemptive efforts to make foods absolutely safe, there are limitations regarding how much industry can do. One of the major limitations in monitoring microbiological quality of foods is the relatively long time it takes for the quality control scientists to detect the nature of contamination and the bacteria responsible for it. Total count as is commonly used does not distinguish between live and dead cells and in the absence of such information it is next to impossible to determine the severity of the problem and prevent food-borne diseases causing unanticipated episodes of poisoning. Recent development of sensors that distinguishes between dead and live bacteria present in a product is timely and widespread use of this technique can be a boost to the efforts of microbiologists to contain and restrict food related diseases. Here is a peep into the new development as reported recently.

"A new type of electronic sensor that might be used to quickly detect and classify bacteria for medical diagnostics and food safetyhas passed a key hurdle by distinguishing between dead and living bacteria cells. Conventional laboratory technologies require that samples be cultured for hours or longer to grow enough of the bacteria for identification and analysis, for example, to determine which antibiotic to prescribe. The new approach might be used to create arrays of hundreds of sensors on an electronic chip, each sensor detecting a specific type of bacteria or pinpointing the effectiveness of particular antibiotics within minutes. "We have taken a step toward this long-term goal by showing how to distinguish between live and dead bacteria," said Muhammad Ashraful Alam, Purdue University's Jai N. Gupta Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "This is important because you need to be able to not only detect and identify bacteria, but to determine which antibiotics are effective in killing them."

Controlling thousands of food related human disasters is a Herculean task and it is tribute to the industry that, considering millions of tons of foods are processed, incidences of serious food poisoning are far and few. Of course that does not mean that scientists have to lower their guards and rest on past laurels. The above innovation as reported above is an excellent example of continuing and serious efforts to tackle food borned safety episodes which have to be eradicated eventually. It is hoped that commercial kits will soon be available for use by the quality control groups across the world.