Researchers from Iowa State University have developed a novel technique to detect salmonella, bacteria that causes foodborne illnesses.
The process, developed by Byron Brehm-Stecher, assistant professor in food science and human nutrition, and his graduate student Bledar Bisha, begins with testing the food, in most cases produce, with a strip of adhesive tape.
The tape is applied to the produce, then carefully removed, taking a sample of whatever is on the skin of the produce.
That sample is then put on a slide and soaked in a special warm, soapy mixture that contains a genetic marker that binds with salmonella and gives off a fluorescent glow when viewed under an ultraviolet light.
The approach called Fluorescent In-Situ Hybridization, or FISH can tell investigators if the produce is contaminated with salmonella in about two hours.
"This method is rapid, it's easy, and it's cheap," said Brehm-Stecher.
Presently, the methods of detecting salmonella take one to seven days.
"I think this will be good tool in outbreak investigation and routine surveillance especially since all you need is tape, a heat block, a small centrifuge and a fluorescence microscope," said Brehm-Stecher.
"It has the potential to be very portable," he added.
The study is published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.