TOPEKA — Faculty at Kansas State University's veterinary medicine college outlined Tuesday development of a faster method of detecting in such food as ground beef a toxin-producing E. coli frequently linked to recalls.
The approach patented by Kansas State requires one day to obtain confirmatory test results rather than the week under the existing standard for detection of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, or STEC.
Jamie Henningson, director of the university's veterinary diagnostic laboratory, said in a statement the alternative detection method could be used widely by food safety and inspection services for rapid analysis of STEC or other food-borne pathogens.
The research objective has been to identify a more rapid system of testing without compromising accuracy of findings, researchers said.
STEC can cause illnesses with symptoms including abdominal pain and diarrhea in people who have ingested such foods as ground beef and vegetables. STEC may lead to kidney failure and be life-threatening. However, some E. coli strains don't produce Shiga toxins and don't influence human health much.
"While the current, commonly used testing method is considered to be the gold standard, it is tedious and requires many days to obtain results that adequately differentiate the bacteria," said Gary Anderson, director of the International Animal Health and Food Safety Institute at Kansas State's campus in Olathe.
Funding for the research project was provided by the veterinary diagnostic lab at Kansas State. The Journal of Clinical Microbiology published results of the E. coli study.