While their predominant use is in the biomedical field, biosensors are emerging as a potentially revolutionary technology in the study and rapid detection of foodborne pathogens, toxins, allergens, contaminants, and indicators of food quality. At a session on “Current Innovations and Challenges in Biosensors for Food Systems Applications” on Wednesday morning, Evangelyn Alocilja with Michigan State University discussed the development of biosensors and antimicrobial agents for rapid detection and control of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens.
According to Alocilja, a recent World Bank Report indicates that antimicrobial resistance is a serious global problem. By 2050, antimicrobial resistance could lead to increased poverty, reduced GDP outputs, a reduction in global trade, decreased livestock production, and increased healthcare costs.
Alocilja and her research team have created a test for detecting antibiotic-resistant bacteria using functionalized magnetic nanoparticles for antibody-free extraction of pathogens from complex food matrices, such as milk, mayonnaise, eggs, and seafood products. The test costs about 5 cents per sample and can be done in about 10 minutes. Applications include food safety, public health, and biodefense.