Meat+Poultry - June 2018 - 76
THE NEED FOR SPEED
The iQ-Check kits help
detect a variety of
E. coli O157:H7.
longer wait a
week for test
as soon as
- WENDY LAUER
MEAT+ POULTRY | 06.18 | www.meatpoultry.com
Zook notes that economics are playing a
greater role in the move toward rapid testing
technology. "The meat and poultry processing
industry is moving toward 'just-in-time', while
'test and hold' is an important part of operation,"
she says. "Manufacturers won't release their
products until they get negative test results. So
faster release of products comes when there is
that negative. Take fresh meat - there is a short
shelf life to begin with. Processors can't wait for
five to seven days for results."
She says two major requirements are
being requested by customers when it comes
to testing: faster results and easy technology.
"The easy part is very important, even in
big laboratories. They want less human
interaction in carrying out the tests, because
it's safer that way. So, we try to have pre-mixed
pre-dispensed materials for our tests. And it
reduces the opportunity for errors."
Bio-Rad's Lauer points out how testing
methods are changing with the move toward
more rapid-results technology. "Current
methods require overnight enrichment for
detection of the pathogen. Our iQ Check Vibrio
test will shorten that to eight hours," she says.
The company is also working on an assay,
currently in beta testing, to transform the way
labs test for Shiga-toxin producing E. coli
(STEC). Using Droplet Digital PCR (ddPCR),
Bio-Rad can encapsulate one bacteria in a
droplet and perform a PCR assay on that
droplet to determine if it contains genes
making it an adulterant. Current assays can't
determine if those genes are in the one cell or
in different cells in the sample.
There are great advantages in using testing
methods that provide quick results. "By
using a rapid method, laboratories can get
information faster, information that will allow
them to make better decisions on the food they
produce," Lauer says.
The push for speed in the food processing
industry is part of the speed of life moving
faster than ever, she notes. "As populations
are growing and becoming more urbanized,
consumers are demanding more of their food
supply. Food processors can no longer wait a
week for test results. They need results as soon
Lauer notes there is an economic role
rapid testing technology plays versus more
traditional testing methods that have been
around for a while. "When selecting a method,
it is important that laboratories look at it
holistically to determine the economic impact,"
she says. There are many factors to consider:
costs associated with multiple steps and
multiple enrichment protocols. There are
costs associated with the amount of biological
waste a method produces. There is also a cost
associated with time, lost shelf life and storage
costs waiting for results if a test-and-hold
program is in effect, she says.
And rapid testing can also protect one of
the most important things of all - a company's
brand. "A company's brand is everything,"
Lauer explains. "We have seen companies
close because of an outbreak. Even the most
responsible companies can face a recall
situation. We keep this (the company's brand)
in mind, and it is at the forefront of everything
But traditional testing methods are not
disappearing or being completely replaced
by newer, faster methods. That's because
traditional culture methods are still the "gold
standard," that produces a colony that can
be confirmed, serotyped or further analyzed.
For that reason, they remain as a standard for
new, quick methods to be measured against.
"Rapid methods that have various international
validations have been tested against these
standard methods and are shown to be
equivalent. Users can be confident in these
methods," she says.
Lauer also points out that testing is a
method to prevent pathogens in food products
not only in large high throughput facilities,
but also in small processors who often rely
on outside labs for their product testing. "We
offer rapid chromogenic media, and real-time
PCR options, with manual and fully automated
protocols," she says.