DuPont and the USDA have agreed to collaborate on the development of a new test for detecting hard-to-identify strains of toxin-producing E. coli that are not currently regulated and have been causing increased instances of illness.
DuPont was among the first to develop tests for E. coli O157:H7, the type of shiga toxin-producing E. coli, or STEC, most frequently associated with global food contamination outbreaks. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service uses the DuPont Bax System to monitor for this pathogen.
In recent years, other types of STEC have been identified as agents of foodborne illness, and these are a growing concern among food safety agencies worldwide. The Agriculture Research Service of the USDA will collaborate with DuPont Qualicon to develop an effective test for the "Big 6" non-O157 STEC pathogens in food, and also will expand the diagnostic tools offered for use in the DuPont Bax System.
"The USDA continually looks for opportunities to collaborate in ways that will expedite research to assist regulatory agencies and move technologies into the marketplace. This collaborative project to develop a discriminating STEC test is a good fit with our mission," said Pina Fratamico, USDA ARS research microbiologist.
"Developing the best science available into applications that meet the needs of the food industry has been our mission for more than a decade," said Marcos Cantharino, global business director - DuPont Qualicon. "Our DNA-based technology is easy to use, rapid and accurate, and provides the food industry with a simple and reliable test system to help assure protection of the global food supply."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimate that non-O157 STEC bacteria are responsible for 36,000 illnesses, 1,000 hospitalizations and 30 deaths annually.