SDI's enrichment media, which can be used in the company's food pathogen assays, stimulates the targeted pathogen to grow rapidly and become easily identified. It also suppresses the billions of other bacteria that typically cause cross-reactivity and false positives, or even a negative, which indicates no detection at all.
"This technology will reduce the time required to obtain test results while maintaining or improving the accuracy of any test method," said SDI president Matthew Knight.
"The new SDI test method will have great benefit in the hands of our customers offering enhanced speed to an accurate result, a much simpler methodology, and easy interpretation."
The food sector is now the largest segment within the industrial microbiology market. It is more than double the size of any of the other industrial segments including the pharmaceutical, personal care products, beverage, environmental, and the industrial process sectors. Enrichment media is a significant component of this $1.6 billion global food testing market. Dependent upon the detection method used, media may represent more than half the per test cost.
Strategic Diagnostics intends to release the first application of this new selective enrichment method together with a new Salmonella assay in the first half of 2006. There are more than 100 million tests run in the United States each year to test for the presence of Salmonella in processed and ready to eat food products.
Carried in eggs, poultry, raw milk and chocolate the salmonella bacteria can cause bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps and in extreme cases kidney failure. Incidents are a major problem in most countries across the globe, leading to hefty costs for the public and private sector.
Recent estimates from the US put total annual costs (medical care and lost productivity combined) of the pathogen at a massive $2.3 billion (€1.85bn).
"This patent application is an example of the creative work that we're doing at SDI," said Dr James Stave, SDI's chief technology officer.
"We continue to explore and develop technology solutions that address real customer issues and result in better decision making tools for our customers. We are particularly excited about this technology because we believe that it is generally applicable to all microbiology tests that employ an enrichment step, even those in markets outside of food pathogen testing."