Purdue researchers discover a faster way to detect salmonella

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – After 15 years of research, Purdue University researchers found a quicker method to detect salmonella in food, which is about three times faster than current detection methods.

Purdue Food Microbiology Professor Arun Bhunia said salmonella is a food-born pathogen that can make a person sick. The salmonella infection can cause gastrointestinal problems, like vomiting and diarrhea.

“It usually comes from poultry, egg products, fruits and vegetables,” said Bhunia.

The group of Purdue microbiologists, engineers and mathematicians developed a machine called BARDOT and it uses laser technology.

“Our goal is to see how quickly we could detect salmonella from food before the consumers can have that food,” explained Bhunia.

Bhunia said they first incubate food samples on a plate for about 16 hours and then placed inside BARDOT. In a matter of minutes, the laser scans bacteria colonies and it produces black and white images.

“That scattering image actually can help us to identify if salmonella is present in that food,” Bhunia added.

Bhunia said the current salmonella detection methods can take about three to five days. It only takes about one day for BARDOT to find salmonella.

“So with this method, we can detect in about 24 hours. It’s relatively fast, so the food processor can make a quick decision about whether that product is safe for human consumption or retail distribution,” explained Bhunia.

Postdoctoral Research Associate Atul Singh researched with Bhunia for the last three years.

“As a researcher, you get a publication or our work is rewarded, we feel that it’s a good accomplishment and it gives us great satisfaction,” said Singh.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate that some of the work that we’re doing at Purdue University could be applicable for solving public health problems,” Bhunia added.

Bhunia said the United States Department of Agriculture helped fund the research.

Food industries can purchase BARDOT through Advanced BioImaging Systems in West Lafayette, Indiana.

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