Faster Food Safety Testing


The University of Massachusetts Amherst received a grant of $495,950 US from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of food and Agriculture (NIFA) for the research team in Food Science. The grant given will help improve food safety as the team develops faster methods for detecting and separating microbial contamination from food.

The new techniques designed by the team should assist food manufacturers avoid costly waiting for safety tests before products can be sold. Food companies may soon need to prove that their products are safe before they ship, since the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 shifted the Food and Drug Administration’s focus from responding to food contamination to preventing it.

In the current method of testing, a sample of the product is sent to a lab where a broth is prepared and any bacteria found are plated and grown. It can take several days to a week before they’re identified. This process can take up to a few weeks and the manufacturers can not do anything with the product until word comes back from the labs. The new grant will hopefully help the research team can work on ways to quickly separate bacteria from these food samples.

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