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Real-time pathogen monitoring during enrichment: a novel nanotechnology-based approach to food safety testing

By June 25, 2018Reports

Authors: Kristin Weidemaier – Erin Carruthers – Adam Curry – Melody Kuroda – Eric Fallows – Joseph Thomas – Douglas Sherman – Mark Muldoonb |


We describe a new approach for the real-time detection and identification of pathogens in food and environmental
samples undergoing culture. Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) nanoparticles are combined with a
novel homogeneous immunoassay to allow sensitive detection of pathogens in complex samples such as
stomached food without the need for wash steps or extensive sample preparation. SERS-labeled immunoassay
reagents are present in the cultural enrichment vessel, and the signal is monitored real-time through the wall
of the vessel while culture is ongoing. This continuous monitoring of pathogen load throughout the enrichment
process enables rapid, hands-free detection of food pathogens. Furthermore, the integration of the food pathogen
immunoassay directly into the enrichment vessel enables fully biocontained food safety testing, thereby
significantly reducing the risk of contaminating the surrounding environment with enriched pathogens. Here,
we present experimental results showing the detection of E. coli, Salmonella, or Listeria in several matrices
(raw ground beef, raw ground poultry, chocolate milk, tuna salad, spinach, brie cheese, hot dogs, deli turkey,
orange juice, cola, and swabs and sponges used to sample a stainless steel surface) using the SERS system and
demonstrate the accuracy of the approach compared to plating results.

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