Listeria, nasty stuff, has been responsible for deaths and many illnesses in recent years. It can survive even at freezing temperatures. It is also one of the most common foodborne pathogens in the world and the third-leading cause of death from food poisoning in the U.S.
Detecting the pathogen in food products has been problematic. For food processing companies that produce and ship large quantities of foodstuff daily, listeria contamination sources can be a moving target that is often missed by current technology.
Currently, the only means of detecting listeria bacteria contamination of food requires highly trained technicians and processes that take several days to complete, says Dr. Carmen Gomes, AgriLife Research engineer with the Texas A&M University department of biological and agricultural engineering, College Station.
Gomes and a Florida colleague have developed a biosensor that can detect listeria bacterial contamination within two or three minutes.