<p>The purpose of this project was to develop and characterise accelerated methods for detecting two important groups of foodborne pathogens: Salmonella and verocytotoxin-producing strains of Escherichia coli (VTEC).
<p>The method will be based on a preliminary incubation of the food sample in growth medium (enrichment culture) to allow resuscitation of debilitated bacteria and cell multiplication, followed by a PCR assay that is specific for the target organism.
The Food Standards Agency requires reliable information on the sources of foodborne pathogens and how they are transmitted through the food chain, in order to formulate strategies for reducing the incidence of foodborne illness in the population.
<p>This information is gained by microbiological examination of food, water, animals and the environment.
<p>Conventional culture methods for detecting foodborne pathogenic bacteria have proved their usefulness over many years, but are often slow, labour-intensive and lacking in specificity.
<p>One such technique, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), allows a particular section of an organism's DNA, a unique signature of its presence, to be amplified and detected in a few hours. Despite the potential advantages of such methods, their application to food has been slow in developing. Simple reliable protocols are needed that are specifically tailored to food applications.
<p>Find more about this project and other FSA food safety-related projects at the <a href="http://www.food.gov.uk/science/research/" target="_blank">Food Standards Agency Research webpage</a>.