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Collaborative Project to Protect Consumers from E. coli Food Contamination

The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture's Center for Food Safety (CFS) has entered into a public-private collaboration with Litmus Rapid-B, LLC (LRB), a Little Rock-based biotechnology company, to develop research that will lead the fight against consumer sickness and death attributed to food contamination.

Each year roughly 3,000 Americans die from food borne illnesses. Forty-eight million get sick. More than 100,000 are hospitalized. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that one out of six people is affected by this growing issue. The collaborative research is intended to improve identification of foodborne bacteria such as E.coli and Salmonella throughout processing and distribution points to create value for the food processing industry and consumers. LRB recently placed its system at the Center for Food Safety, which is the first LRB system deployed to any university in the United States.

'The LRB system allows us to pinpoint specific bacteria faster than any other current methods,' said Litmus Rapid-B president Ted Moskal. 'Ultimately, this allows for earlier detection and management of food contamination inside the processing plant.'

Steven C. Ricke, Center for Food Safety director, said, 'Developing collaborative relationships with commercial partners such as Litmus Rapid-B really enhances the Center's ability to more closely interface with the food industry to solve not only current food safety issues but develop solutions for potential issues before they become a major problem.'

LRB developed the system in conjunction with scientists at the National Center for Toxicological Research, an agency of the Food and Drug Administration in Jefferson, Ark.

The goal of the collaborative research effort is to provide the quickest and most accurate data to develop bacterial controls that protect consumers from sickness and death.

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