Harnessing new microbiology techniques
Everything we know about the microbiology of our food is based on testing and we often make decisions based on test results. Advances in techniques can help us to find new methods, use existing methods differently and obtain results more quickly.
Quick pathogenic organism identification
Salmonella, Listeria, Campylobacter and a range of other organisms can be identified in less than an hour using MALDI ToF (matrix assisted laser desorption ionisation time of flight mass spectroscopy). Conventional techniques can take over 48 hours.
Bacterial strain differentiation
We can differentiate between strains of the same bacterial species. This can help us to determine the source of contamination. To do this we use sequencing or ribotyping which analyse bacterial DNA. Ribotyping can identify and subtype an unknown isolate in eight hours.
Complete bacteria identification
We can identify all types of bacteria in a sample at one time using advanced microbial profiling. The technique allows us to identify unculturable organisms, so the results will be much more closely related to the mixture of species in the product than if you use traditional culturing methods. We have used this technique to investigate shelf life and traceability.
Virus and STEC detection PCR (polymerase chain reaction) can be used to detect viruses and STEC E.coli:
Viruses, such as Norovirus, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis E can be hard to detect. They can’t grow in food and we can’t culture or grow them in a lab. PCR recovers and detects any virus present in a food sample.
- STEC E.coli
Shiga Toxin Producing E.coli (STEC) are pathogens that are linked to raw meats, fresh produce, raw milk and dairy products. The group required a re-think in method development: we are looking for a species of bacterium that has the capacity to produce a toxin under certain conditions rather than just a species of bacteria or a toxin. Our PCR method can do this.
These techniques require expert interpretation and we can help.