A simple camera system has been developed to enable manufacturers to detect the Shiga toxin, a product of E. coli.
Using the camera and light-emitting source, this system can detect active Shiga toxins, which can be harmful to humans. Commonly used tests can’t distinguish between active and inactive toxins, and the difference is key, because inactive toxins are not harmful.
A fluorometer, which has the same detection capabilities for Shiga and other pathogens, costs $35,000.
The camera system costs $300.
Equipment costs are often an issue for manufacturers as they upgrade their food safety procedures. Manufacturer needs could span pathogen detection, low-risk production and processing equipment and facility cleaning and maintenance. These pieces of equipment can be costly on their own.
Less expensive safety systems could be integral as manufacturers make final preparations for federal Food Safety Modernization Act compliance. Some facilities have more work to do than others,with some needing better documentation of safety procedures, as well as others needing to do a complete overhaul of equipment, risk assessments and procedures.
The system could also prevent unnecessary recalls by only finding active toxins. Recalls can cost upwards of tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, so keeping them to a minimum is crucial to maintaining profitability.
General Mills is currently undergoing a massive recall related to an E. coli outbreak linked to its Gold Medal and other flour brands. That recall has since expanded overseas, to other products within its portfolio, and to other brands that use the flour as an ingredient in their own products.
Food is a primary carrier of the E. coli pathogen, causing 65% of outbreaks from 2003 to 2012, according to the CDC.
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Source: Food dive