BMS Scholar Contributes to New Food Safety Technology

January 29, 2016

Dr. J. Paul Robinson, a Purdue Veterinary Medicine faculty member in the Department of Basic Medical Sciences (BMS), helped develop a Purdue innovation that creates a “fingerprint-like pattern” to identify foodborne pathogens, without using reagents. Licensed by Hettich Lab Technology, the innovation was demonstrated this week at the Society of Laboratory Automation and Screening Conference and Exhibition in San Diego, Calif.

The device, called the Bacteria Rapid Detection using Optical Scattering Technology, or BARDOT, has shown great promise in identifying dangerous pathogens such as listeria, staphylococcus, salmonella, vibrio, and E. coli. Since the technology does not require a reagent, it reduces the cost of the pathogen identification. The technology can be used to test any food source for contamination, changing the model for rapid and definitive identification of pathogens. The USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health all provided funding to the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine and College of Agriculture to develop the technology, which uses an optical sensor in the detection and identification of foodborne pathogens and other bacteria of interest.

"The technology can transmit a pathogenic organism fingerprint across the country instantly without the danger of physically transporting the pathogenic organism. This can be achieved without any reagents or assay requirements, which makes this a unique feature for this technology," said Dr. Robinson, PVM Professor of Cytomics and member of the Purdue Center for Food Safety Engineering. "Another attribute is that the technology evaluates every colony on a Petri-dish, so it eliminates or significantly minimizes the sampling bias, and as a result dramatically lowers the rate of false negatives - something that no other technology in organism identification can claim."

Hettich Lab Technology designs, engineers and commercializes software and automated incubation systems for identifying pathogens using elastic light scatter techniques that fire lasers at a pathogen colony to create a light-scatter field that gives the pathogen a pattern or fingerprint. "We are excited about the potential of the technology to advance the process of protecting society from foodborne pathogens." said Klaus-Günter Eberle, Hettich's CEO and general manager.

In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in six Americans, or 48 million people, become ill from foodborne illnesses, leading to nearly 3,000 deaths and 128,000 hospitalized patients. In addition, foodborne illnesses are considered responsible for an estimated cost of $152 billion in medical expenses, lost productivity and business, lawsuits and compromised branding.

Click here to view a complete news release about the Purdue innovation, which includes a list of other Purdue faculty who were involved in its development.

Writer: Kevin Doerr,

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