A quick test could tell you if there’s salmonella in your chicken

Canadian scientists claim to have developed a simple and cheap way to find out if Salmonella hides in food. Their method can apparently detect the bacteria in an hour and with less setup than a typical at-home covid test. They believe their test could be used by both poultry processors and food preparers.

Salmonella Bacteria are one of the most common sources of foodborne illness. In the United States only, they are felt cause approximately 1.35 million infections, 26,500 hospitalizations and 420 deaths per year. Most infections are self-limiting, although very unpleasant, and do not require antibiotic treatment. But superbug Salmonella is also becoming a major problem, as it makes it even more difficult to treat or prevent serious cases.

THE Salmonella strains that cause disease in humans are found in abundance in wild and domestic animals, especially chickens. And although food producers routinely check their products for Salmonella and other foodborne germs, current lab culture tests typically take a day or more to return results. Researchers at McMaster University in Ontario say their next-generation test could be much faster and easier to use.

The team test.  Red dots indicate Salmonella contamination.

The team test. The red dots indicate Salmonella contamination.
Picture: Matthew Clarke, McMaster University

The test relies on a synthetic molecule created by the researchers that interacts with the bacteria. This molecule is packed between microscopic particles made of materials such as gold. When a contaminated liquefied food sample comes into contact with the test, one of the bacterial enzymes Salmonella reacts and opens the sliced ​​package, spilling the molecule into the liquid. The liquid sample is then placed on a specially prepared strip of paper and, thanks to a biosensor also created by the researchers, the molecule will cause any contaminated liquid to stain the paper red in less than an hour. The redder it becomes, the more contaminated the food. The team’s findings detailing their test were published this week in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

“It’s easier to use these tests than to use a covid test, which so many people are already doing,” study author Carlos Filipe, chairman of McMaster’s chemical engineering department, said in a statement. statement published by the university. “For this to be as effective and useful as possible, it needs to be easy to use.”

Chickens are perhaps the most notorious source of Salmonella infection, but the team says their test should be able to detect the bacteria in beef, dairy and other vulnerable food products. And while more research and development will be needed to confirm the test’s effectiveness and bring it to scale, the team has already received funding from the nonprofit research organization Mitacs and Toyota Tsusho. Canada Inc., a subsidiary of Toyota Tsusho Corporation in Japan; the latter company also plans to market the test.

The test would most often be deployed in treatment facilities, but scientists see no reason why it cannot be used elsewhere.

“Anyone can use it directly in the setting where food is prepared, processed or sold,” co-author Yingfu Li, head of McMaster’s Functional Nucleic Acids Research Group, said in a statement. “There is a balance between cost, convenience and need. If it’s cheap, reliable and easy, why not use it? »

Leave a Comment