The Good News and Bad News for Food Safety

The good news is the food safety procedures that are now in place are the best ever; the bad news is that as a result, our food companies are finding more instances, through improved technologies, of food safety outbreaks, and therefore are issuing more recalls. And for many consumers, that undermines their confidence in the food supply.

Multiparametric magneto-fluorescent nanosensors for the ultrasensitive detection of E. coli to the rescue!

A new research paper in the ACS Infectious Diseases Journal reports on a new technique that combines two existing food contamination detection methods into a single, fast diagnostic test. The technique uses a combination of magnetic resonance and fluorescence testing to check for both high and low levels of E. coli bacteria simultaneously, without the time and labwork of traditional culturing. The lead author, Tuhina Banerjee, told Gizmodo that the results start to become clear within one minute. After 15 minutes, the technique can give a confirmed test result for the presence of E. coli, and tests for other bacteria will follow. Currently it takes three weeks to confirm the presence of E.coli. 

The timing to determine whether a food or beverage is contamined is critical, not only for consumer health and safety, but also to prevent these products from ever entering the food chain. There are huge implications for food producers and how they test for bacteria, but just imagine being able to market this kind of technology – whether as a stand-alone handheld device or even as an app for our mobile phones, directly to the consumer.

We may be on the path to help any of the one in six Americans -- or 48 million people -- who get sick, the 128,000 who are hospitalized, and the 3,000 who die of foodborne diseases each year.

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