Biodetech signs agreement to develop food safety system

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: ECBC. Joseph Corriveau and Robert Webb sign documents to form a partnership to develop novel food safety system
Picture: ECBC. Joseph Corriveau and Robert Webb sign documents to form a partnership to develop novel food safety system

Related tags: Patent

Biodetech has signed two agreements for a pathogen identification system created by the US Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC).

The Agents of Biological Origin Identifier (ABOid) system can provide automated identification of sample contents from pure cultures and mixture of microbes in culture, environmental or biological matrices.

The patent license agreement (PLA) and Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) gives the firm a partially exclusive license of ABOid patents to develop the technology for the commercial food industry.

ECBC received two US patents for methods of detection and identification of cell type for ABOid in 2012 and 2013.

Use of mass spectrometry

Scientists in ECBC’s Detection Spectrometry Branch developed the ABOid biological detection software system that uses bioinformatics algorithms capable of rapidly identifying microbes in food samples without knowing what the sample is.

Users can run mass spectral data through the software to provide statistical validation of a sample’s identity.

The software can identify substances in hours instead of days taken by currently used food analysis systems.

Joseph Corriveau, director of ECBC, said: “This agreement will commence another successful partnership between ECBC and industry in providing products and solutions for the warfighter and the nation.

“ABOid can rapidly identify a multitude of other pathogens in our food, as well as any act of food terrorism.”

Nothing like this out there’

Robert Webb, CEO of Biodetech, said it was excited to present the ABOid system to industry.

A retired army colonel, Webb brings more than 20 years of food safety experience to the development project, having served in the Army Public Health Command’s Veterinary Services, which is responsible for securing the army’s food supply.

Given the rapidity and the comprehensive nature of this test, there’s nothing like this out there in the food industry​,” he said.

Quick and accurate identification of unknown substances is the key feature of ABOid, said ECBC and Biodetech. 

ABOid uses the data and not the actual sample, eliminating potential risk of transporting an unknown substance as well as the cost of shipping samples to be examined.

Data is collected from a mass spectrometer and sent via electronic file for processing by ABOid software.

Results are color-coded to highlight anything that could be considered a pathogen and whether it is toxic and for sequenced organisms, ABOid can provide strain level identification.

Scientists at ECBC have been working on the technology for a decade, Corriveau said, but several years ago, the US Department of Agriculture asked for help in monitoring and protecting the country’s food supply.

The army’s Public Health Command provided hundreds of samples of mashed potatoes to determine ABOid’s capabilities to detect chemicals or other toxins in food, from Salmonella to ricin.

ABOid was able to detect the toxins in the mashed potatoes with 100% accuracy,”​ said Mary Wade, ECBC principal investigator.

Wade added, with this agreement, the technology could be used to examine meats, dairy and other food products.

ABOid has been used to analyze the food supply at army public health facilities in Korea and Japan. 

ECBC has the authority to license intellectual property rights on behalf of the government. The purpose of a PLA is to commercialize federally owned technology to benefit the nation.

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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