Screening pathogens in real time.

Researchers at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., say they have developed a biochip that can detect toxins in tainted food in real time, and believe the new technology will eventually eliminate the time-consuming practice of culturing food samples. While it will take a few years to engineer the biochips for commercial use, the technology may be applicable to dozens of pathogens by then. Researchers said the technology is based on protein matching, and indicated that the first prototype-application chip will be developed to detect the pathogen Listeria monocytogenes in foods. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 2,500 Listeria cases in 1999. Twenty percent of them were fatal.

New milk residue test announced. Lansing, Mich.-based Neogen Corp. has developed new tests for detecting milk residues in raw materials, processing environments or final products, thereby providing processors with a means of determining whether all traces of unwanted milk have been eliminated. Like earlier peanut and egg allergen tests, the milk allergen tests were developed by Neogen in cooperation with the University of Nebraska's Food Allergy Research and Resource Program. The tests are most critical to processors of sorbet, dark chocolate, cookies and cakes, dips and sauces, salad dressings and potato chips, since these foods are commonly produced in facilities that also manufacture products containing milk. The tests are available in a screening format, Alert, and in a format that allows for full quantitation of milk residues, Veratox. The tests take only 30 minutes to perform. Previously, processors had to rely on test methods that took days to complete in a laboratory setting.

New carcass treatment for meat processors. Manufacturers Ecolab Inc. and CHAD Inc. have signed a partnership to create a new carcass treatment system available to processors. The two companies will work together to develop maximum antimicrobial control using chemical concentrations 100 times lower than carcass treatments currently available. The partnership follows Ecolab's recent filing with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of a food additive petition to use peroxyacetic acid as a red meat carcass antimicrobial treatment. Under the terms of the new agreement, Ecolab will supply their proprietary antimicrobial program for use in spray cabinets designed and manufactured by CHAD.