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Food Safety Prototypes

Biochip - Foodborne Pathogen Detection

Protecting consumers from foodborne illness is an important health concern facing the food industry. An important deficiency exposed by foodborne illness is the inability to track contaminated food back to the source in a timely manner. Although there are established methods that detect bacterial pathogen contamination, they are limited in distinguishing viable bacteria quickly.

Currently, food pathogen testing requires lengthy culture steps, which many times are delayed even longer due to the lack of in-house testing labs. Typically, 2-3 days elapses between when the food is sampled and the test results are available. This delay is challenging since some foods are consumed before test results become readily available. The focus of ongoing research in LORRE is to use microfiltration to rapidly concentrate organisms, thereby eliminating the culture steps and enabling rapid probing of extract from food or water samples for the presence of pathogens. The system used to detect foodborne pathogens is pictured below.