USDA explores using novel genetic labs for faster detection of E. coli

Dec 20, 2012

Pina Fratamico is on the quest to find the easiest and fastest way to test for harmful Escherichia coli in ground beef. In an article published in Frontiers in Microbiology on the 20th of December, she explores using a next-generation real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) system to discover specific gene targets that indicate the presence of dangerous foodborne pathogens. The results show that assays performed using this PCR system are rapid, sensitive, and reliable.

"Testing using these types of systems is faster, easier, and more reproducible than previous methods, and this should increase food safety in the long run. I feel that we could confidently move to these new systems for screening and other foods for E. coli contamination," says Fratamico, researcher at the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania.

Not all E. coli are dangerous, but certain strains produce a potentially dangerous toxin called Shiga toxin. These Shiga toxin-producing E. coli also known as STEC can be found in raw meat and cause serious food poisoning in humans. According the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) website, in October of this year over, 2,300 pounds of ground beef were recalled due to contamination with STEC.

"Certain groups of STEC have been declared as adulterants by the USDA FSIS, and the availability of rapid and reliable tests for these pathogens is critical so that testing results are available before meat is shipped to restaurants and consumers," explains Fratamico.

The PCR protocol has already been used for some time in the meat industry. The genetic test detects the presence of specific gene targets that indicate the existence of STEC in meat. The new generation of real-time PCR systems, like the GeneDisc from Pall Technologies in France used in this particular study, employ a self-contained unit that standardizes the procedure and tend to be relatively portable and easy to use – offering obvious advantages for both meat processors and inspectors from the industry and government alike.

Explore further: Bulletproof nuclei? Stem cells exhibit unusual absorption property

More information: Detection of Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli in Ground Beef Using the GeneDisc Real-Time PCR System, Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, DOI: 10.3389/fcimb.2012.00152

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Gov't expanding E. coli tests in meat

May 31, 2012

(AP) — The government is expanding E. coli testing in some raw meat, a move expected to prevent more people from contracting the bacteria that can cause severe illness or death.

US to test beef for six kinds of E.coli bacteria

Sep 13, 2011

The US government said Tuesday it will begin testing next year for six more kinds of E.coli bacteria in raw ground beef and tenderized steaks in order to boost protection of US consumers.

Ground beef products are recalled

Jan 14, 2008

The U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service announced the recall of 188,000 pounds of ground beef products due to possible contamination.

Government to expand E. coli tests in meat

Sep 12, 2011

(AP) -- For years government officials have tested meat for only one strain of E. coli. Now they will test for seven, a move that will hasten recalls of infected meat.

Recommended for you

Researchers successfully clone adult human stem cells

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —An international team of researchers, led by Robert Lanza, of Advanced Cell Technology, has announced that they have performed the first successful cloning of adult human skin cells into stem ...

Researchers develop new model of cellular movement

Apr 18, 2014

(Phys.org) —Cell movement plays an important role in a host of biological functions from embryonic development to repairing wounded tissue. It also enables cancer cells to break free from their sites of ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Biologists help solve fungi mysteries

(Phys.org) —A new genetic analysis revealing the previously unknown biodiversity and distribution of thousands of fungi in North America might also reveal a previously underappreciated contributor to climate ...

Growing app industry has developers racing to keep up

Smartphone application developers say they are challenged by the glut of apps as well as the need to update their software to keep up with evolving phone technology, making creative pricing strategies essential to finding ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.