Researchers at McMaster University, Canada, have developed a test for Salmonella contamination that “provides accurate results in an hour or less.” The inexpensive test could improve food safety and mitigate broad recalls of contaminated food.
Salmonella is one of the primary contamination risks for poultry processors, with major chicken producers having to perform “tens of thousands” of lab tests each year to prevent the infection, which causes 155,000 deaths each year globally, according to the report.
The report notes that: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports an estimated 450 deaths, 23,000 hospitalizations and US$365 million in direct medical costs are caused by Salmonella infection alone in the US each year.”
Reducing or eliminating the need for overnight Salmonella testing and replacing it with a rapid, easily-used test will save time and money, notes study co-author Yingfu Li, a Biochemistry and Chemical Biology professor and leader of McMaster’s Functional Nucleic Acids Research Group.
“Anyone can use it right in the setting where food is being prepared, processed or sold,” he says.
“There’s a balance between cost, convenience and need. If it’s cheap, reliable and easy, why not use it?”