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DFRL transfers rapid test technology, including assays, to Indian Army

Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL), Mysore, has transferred technology of rapid tests, which includes miniaturised bio-chemical kits, antibody and DNA-based tests and assays that are modifications of conventional tests to speed up the analysis of food contamination which contains animal products like meat, fish, and poultry, to the Indian Army. With the help of these meat testing kits, the Army will be able to access microbial quality, detect cold and live slaughtered meat and E coli.

Foods from animals, principally meat, fish, milk and eggs, can potentially be contaminated with more pathogens. Traditionally, the concerns for food safety have focussed on zoonotic diseases. Food-borne diseases represent an important public health problems, significantly affecting people’s health with economic consequences, stated RR, nutrition expert, Central Military Veterinary Lab, Meerut.

Approximately 500 species of normally harmless bacteria are referred to as commensal bacteria colonise the human gastrointestinal tract, producing disease when normal anatomic or immunologic defenses are weakened. The principal invasive intenstinal bacterial pathogens of food animal origin are Campylobacter, Salmonella, Listeria, E Coli, Brucella, Yersinia and Vibrio. Nearly all are common harmless bacteria in cattle, swine and poultry that sometimes cause invasive infection in animals and humans. Vibrio, an exception, is found in shellfish and sea water. Other organisms of food-animal origin such as Enterococcus specialties and E coli strains that produce Shiga toxin, which could also enter and mix with harmless bacteria in the human gastrointestinal tract, stated the nutrition experts in a presentation on animal-borne pathogens in food.

According to the experts, products contaminated with food-borne pathogens often look and smell the same as food. Therefore visual inspection is not enough to ensure safe food and ingredients. Laboratory-based surveillance of animals, food and humans is important both to detect and prevent food-borne pathogens from entering or spreading through the food chain as well as to identify food-borne disease outbreaks so that appropriate control measures can be taken.

Traditional methods to detect food-borne bacteria often rely on time-consuming growth in culture media, followed by isolation, biochemical identification and some times serology. The rapid detection of pathogens and other microbial contaminants in food is critical for ensuring the safety of consumers.

Recent advances in technology make detection and identification faster, more convenient, more sensitive and more specific than conventional assays. These new methods are often referred to as rapid methods. Some of these assays have also been automated to reduce hands-on manipulation.

Preventive measures comprise of implementation of food control systems which includes development of relevant and enforceable food laws, access to qualified food inspectors and effective food monitoring systems. This is where DFRL was also making its efforts to provide the testing technology to make the process easier at locations of the Indian Army where the experts could assess instantly and avert food-related diseases.

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