Several people have died or fallen ill in recent years by eating food contaminated by bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. coli). Many of these cases have captured public attention and have led to massive food recalls.
Industry laboratories currently need more than four days of testing to confirm the presence of microbial contaminants in beef from food processing facilities. This delay poses potential risk to the public and there is a strong need to find new ways to provide faster results.
This project, led by Drs. Michel Bergeron and Burton Blais, aims to develop a genomic test that would be able to detect seven serotypes of toxin-producing E.coli (STEC) cells in 325 grams of ground beef in less than eight hours. The result could be technology that revolutionizes food microbiology safety processes by greatly decreasing the amount of time and money it takes to detect whether beef in food processing facilities is contaminated.
Other funding partners for this project include: Genome Alberta, Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency, Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions, Genome Quebec, and the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food and the Ministry of Rural Affairs.