Campylobacter, primarily C. jejuni, is the third leading cause of death from foodborne infections in the world.
Testing for Campylobacter is seldom required by food safety regulations throughout the world. However, most regulations put the onus on food companies to adopt the measures to guarantee food safety, as recalls, and consumer perception of a brand, can be costly.
Warnex's Rapid Pathogen Detection System uses a DNA-based technology called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to determine the presence of pathogens in a sample and their numbers. The system allows for the simultaneous detection of multiple pathogens and the processing of samples within three to 48 hours. Traditional microbiology tests can take from five to seven days to produce results.
Warnex said that its quantitative Campylobacter test used with the company's rapid pathogen detection system was granted "Performance Tested" status by the AOAC Research Institute. The company claims the system is the first quantitative real-time PCR test available to be AOAC-validated for the food industry.
"This validation will enhance the commercial appeal of the Warnex platform for our prospective clients as well as broaden the applicability of our system for existing customers," said Mark Busgang, the company's president and chief executive officer.
The AOAC Research Institute is a non-profit international scientific organization that administers a certified programme for validating testing methods.
Within the program, an independent third-party review showed that the Warnex test detected and quantified Campylobacter in poultry rinses as well as, or better than traditional culture methods. Warnex's Campylobacter test provides results within as little as three hours with no enrichment required, the company stated.
Warnex is n biotechnology company providing diagnostic and quality control devices and consulting services to the pharmaceutical, food and healthcare sectors.
The companies devices are used for pathogen detection in foods and for the testing of the presence of genetically modified organisms. The company says it is developing devices to detect viruses, toxins, yeasts and molds.
Poultry-based foods are assumed to be the primary source of campylobacteriosis, with the main routes of infection being the ingestion of inadequately cooked meat and cross-contamination. This pathogen is the cause of enteric infections that can be severe enough to cause death or serious neurological damage.
A general increase in reported cases of campylobacteriosis over the last few years in the EU's fifteen original member, according to a European Commission document released earlier this year.
The statistics are in the European Commission's first report on the persistence in the EU of a range of zoonoses, foodborne diseases that are transmissible from animals to humans.
In 2004 the 25 EU countries reported a total of 6,860 outbreaks of zoonoses, with 42,447 people affected. By far the most frequently reported zoonotic diseases in humans are salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis, with the most deadly being listerious, the report found.
There were 192,703 reported cases of salmonellosis and 183,961 of campylobacteriosis cases reported during 2004 in the EU's 25 member states. The totals have increased for 2004 due to the expansion of the EU to include 10 new member states.
The overall incidence rate for Campylobacter was 47.6 cases per 100,000 population, a 32 per cent increase from 2003. An trend toward increasing incident rates was observed in the thirteen out of 15 original member states. The exceptions were Spain and Sweden, where rates went down.
Poultry was the main souce of Campylobacter infections from food. In meat, the highest prevalence, greater than 80 per cent, was reported in poultry meat at slaughter. At the retail level Campylobacter was reported in poultry meat in a range of 8.1 per cent to 77 per cent.
Prevalences in pig meat and bovine meat at slaughter were considerably lower, ranging from no findings to 11.9 per cent. Campylobacter were also isolated from a variety of other foodstuffs such as fishery products, cheeses and vegetables.
With few exceptions, 20 to 50 per cent of all Campylobacter infections in humans were resistant to fluoroquinolones, tetracyclines, quinolones and penicillins. Samples from animals and meat show a common resistance to streptomycin, fluoroquinolones, ampicillin and tetracycline.
The EU's new zoonoses directive 2003/99/EC became effect 12 June 2004. Reporting according to the new rules will start with data collected during 2005.
Zoonoses are diseases, which are transmissible from animals to humans. The infection can be acquired directly from animals, or through ingestion of contaminated foodstuffs. The seriousness of these diseases in humans can vary from mild symptoms to life threatening conditions.