Under the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the USDA Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) a system will be developed and validated for surveillance of pathogens including hepatitis, E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, Campylobacter and Norovirus.
The expected outcome is a commercial test used through the lifecycle of food production and distribution to ensure food safety.
Rene Schena, CEO of Arrayit, said the firm has worked with the USDA to identify and detect the most important pathogens contaminating food products.
“There is a specific kind of identifier which is unique to each pathogen and will light up on the micro-array if the contamination is found," she told FoodQualityNews.
“It is specific to each strain as some strains of E.coli, for example, are not harmful for humans.”
Schena said the firm has worked with the USDA for four years to develop products.
“The milestones we have identified are, with the test working now, formable protocol and equipment and data fallout in the first quarter of 2015.
“Then we will have training to do for those who are not experts in the micro-array technology.”
Arrayit and the USDA will use the firm's patented and proprietary DNA microarray platform and USDA's patent pending method to detect DNA sequences in foodborne pathogens.
The USDA's $146bn 2014 budget includes $123bn of mandatory programs and $23bn of discretionary spending for programs including food safety.
USDA and legislation
Brian Kinnerk, VP operations, said the food safety modernization act (FSMA) is a catalyst for change.
“The legislation will impact industry as a whole. It is moving to a preventive system rather than a reactive after-the-fact approach.
“The product is robust, portable and as easy to use as possible with the technicality taken care of by Arrayit.”
Dr Mark Schena, chief science officer, told us how the technology works for detecting food pathogens.
"Arrayit’s patented and proprietary DNA microarray platform utilizes high-performance contact printing to manufacture microarray devices for the rapid and affordable detection of foodborne pathogens," he said.
"Miniaturized capture elements on the microarray hybridize with complimentary DNA sequences in the pathogen genomes, allowing the simultaneous detection of dozens of pathogens in a simple test."
Schena also gave an insight into the benefits of working with the USDA.
“There is no rapid, affordable test for Norovirus except the one from Arrayit and the USDA to test the environment, from lettuce to oysters and the water to clean the produce.
“The USDA wants to tackle Norovirus and they have the teeth to do that through regulation. Norovirus is difficult to grow and handle in the lab and presents a detection challenge.
“USDA has the stakeholder access, so it is a top down approach to enter the food safety market, we believe it is the right way to start from the off.”