Laser light scattering detects Listeria
Purdue University, W. Lafayette, Ind., and Micro Imaging Technology (MIT), San Clemente, Calif., have entered into a strategic research collaboration to find a faster, cheaper, and easier pathogen test for Listeria and Listeria monocytogenes in foods using laser light scattering technology. The partnership pairs similar laser light scattering technologies developed independently by each contributor to demonstrate the speed and accuracy of using non-biological methods to provide a simple, rapid, and cost-effective solution to food pathogen testing.

Arun Bhunia, Ph.D., Professor of Food Microbiology at Purdue University’s Dept. of Food Science, who will direct the Purdue portion of the research, has focused on the development of novel detection and diagnostic tools for foodborne pathogens employing optical and electrical biosensors, including light scattering-based sensors. Bhunia and his colleagues developed Purdue’s BARDOT (Bacterial Rapid Detection using Optical scattering Technology), a colony-based bacterial screening system that rapidly scans and detects pathogens on culture plates.

Micro Imaging Technology’s Chief Scientist David Haavig will lead MIT’s efforts in the collaboration. Haavig was instrumental in developing the MIT 1000, a bacterial cell-based identification system that can identify pathogenic bacteria in three minutes (average) at significant cost savings per test, which requires only clean filtered water and a sample of the unknown bacteria. “The synergy of these two systems for independent detection (BARDOT) and confirmation (MIT 1000) of the presence of pathogens in food is fantastic. This is a win-win program,” said Haavig.

Defense technology applied to food safety
Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, Ohio, the world’s largest nonprofit research and development organization, has adapted its national defense technology to help the poultry industry combat Salmonella outbreaks and improve food safety. The software modeling program, Probabilistic Risk Informed Analysis or PRIA, was originally designed to chart responses to incidents ranging from biological and chemical attacks in public gatherings to the purposeful contamination of a water supply.

A modified version for the poultry industry allows food safety professionals to proactively assess the effectiveness of mitigation strategies before an event occurs. It improves on current methods— which mostly rely on loading data onto spreadsheets—and results in highquality assessments that are quicker, more mathematically robust, and better documented for regulatory purposes.

PRIA uses customized graphics and animations to run rapid simulations that take into account all the variables involved in the process from the hatchlings to further processing.

While currently customized for the poultry processing industry, PRIA can be adapted to address other high-risk foods.

Consumer attitudes on novel food technologies
A new report, “Irish Consumer and Industry Acceptance of Novel Food Technologies: Research Highlights, Implications and Recommendations,” from Teagasc, UCC, and the Dublin Institute of Technology identifies the complexities in how consumers form attitudes to novel food technologies. This complexity is demonstrated by the fact that consumers who accept one technology may not necessarily accept another technology, and even acceptance of one application of a technology does not imply acceptance of another application of the same technology.

Consumers do not accept novel food technology applications on the basis of promised benefits alone. Consumers trade off benefits (including lower price) for potential perceived risks associated with such technologies. In general, consumers were more accepting of novel technology if they perceived the associated personal and societal benefits to outweigh potential risks.

However, awareness and understanding of many novel technologies (such as nanotechnology) is limited and the majority of people are not particularly motivated to assess the pros and cons, and thus make an evaluation on gut feelings and instinct. Many consumers turn to regulatory authorities, such as the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, and trust that such agencies can ensure that products available on the market are safe.

Acceptance of foods produced using these technologies was also found to be influenced by many interrelated factors. “Demographic factors, such as family status, and subjective values such as perceived naturalness and personal control, attitude to nature and technological progress, and trust in stakeholders, framed consumers’ overall attitudes towards the specific technology,” said Maeve Henchion, Project Coordinator.