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Network will increase knowledge of analytical methods.

A variety of new advanced microbiological analysis methods is being used by the food industry, making it possible to more rapidly detect microorganisms. Scientists at Sweden's SIK are involved in what they call their "milliSnabb project," which entails forming a professional network around modern microbiological analysis technology. The aim is to analyze and improve the available expertise in analytical methodologies for detecting and typing bacteria throughout the production chain.

Conventional analytical methods are very resource-intensive since they are based on the cultivation of bacteria, followed by confirmation procedures that utilize a whole series of different tests. This limits the number of analyses that can be conducted, which in turn may create a simplified picture of a food's hygiene quality and safety. Consequently, contaminated food could reach the consumer with the subsequent risk of foodborne disease and the high costs involved in recalling products.

The milliSnabb project is a collaborative venture between several universities and companies. There are four sub-projects in milliSnabb:

* Networks for rapid analysis methods. Through seminars and workshops, participants will acquire knowledge of modern analytical methods for detecting microorganisms as well as increased insight into why analysis is necessary, and the advantages new methodologies have to offer.

* Typing of micro-organisms using genetic fingerprinting techniques. A specialist network in Sweden has been formed to exchange know-how covering typing techniques. Two case studies (S. Senftenberg and S. Livmgslon) have been chosen for typing Salmonella using a variety of techniques. These will form the basis of a future database containing fingerprints of the bacteria that are of greatest significance to industry. The database can be used for tracing bacteria, for instance to identify a bacterial source in a factory.

* DNA-based detection of Salmonella. This effort will involve studying and developing real-time-based diagnostic PCR (polymerase chain reaction) technology for the quantification and detection of living or dead Salmonella. Using real-time PCR, Salmonella can be discovered in certain samples which would otherwise be missed using traditional analytical methods.

* DNA-based detection of C. botulinum and its neurotoxin expression. This work will enable scientists to develop real-time PCR techniques for detecting C. botulinum and the formation of neurotoxins. An effective analytical method has been developed and will be further optimized. The aim is to be able to replace existing animal-based methods for the diagnosis of botulism.

Further information. Elisabeth Borch, SIK, Box 5401, SE-402 29 Goteborg, Sweden; phone: +46 31 335 56 00; fax: +46 31 83 37 82; URL:
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Publication:Microbial Update International
Date:Oct 1, 2003
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