Nature Middle East | House of Wisdom

Detecting deadly foodborne pathogens on the spot

Researchers from Saudi Arabia and Jordan have invented a cheap sensor that can detect foodborne pathogens within minutes and which can be used by anyone.

The sensor can detect, among other pathogens, Listeria monocytogenes, a notoriously harmful pathogen that has caused numerous infections worldwide and whose inspection and detection efforts exhaust billions of dollars every year, says a new study published in Biosensors & Bioelectronics.

The sensor itself is made of magnetic nanoparticles. It can detect minute traces or serial dilutions of Listeria in milk and meat, as the study demonstrates. “The sensor’s performance is superior in terms of its simplicity, cost and speed,” says researcher Mohammed Zourob, the study’s corresponding author.

Zourob adds that the sensor can be used by non-skilled personnel to check the food contamination; food manufacturers, stores, distributors and even laypersons can use it.

The biosensor changes color from black to yellow in less a minute time when it detects Listeria. Zourob’s team has also developed sensors that can detect other food pathogens such as Escherichia  coliSalmonella, Shigella flexnerii and Staphylococcus aureus.

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