Submitted to: ARS Food Safety and Inspection Service Research Workshop
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/3/1998
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Feces are an important vehicle for the transmission of bacteria that cause human foodborne diseases. Detecting and preventing fecal and ingesta contamination on carcasses are important steps in preventing foodborne diseases in humans. We have developed a specific and sensitive method which is capable of detecting fecal contamination on carcasses in near real-time. The method is based on fluorescent spectroscopy and uses a specific fluorescent signal from feces as a marker for contamination. The feasibility of this detection method has been demonstrated by three different detection approaches including a modified fluorometer, image analysis using a CCD camera, and hand-held prototype devices constructed in our labs. Using these approaches we have detected feces and ingesta on intentionally contaminated meat samples and on trimmed samples collected at a slaughter plant. Current research is focus on determining the variability of the signal from feces among different animals and examination of compounds which might give a false-positive result. We are also constructing additional prototypes capable of imaging larger areas and entire carcasses. We believe that these devices will be useful as part of HACCP programs in the packing industry to detect and prevent fecal contamination and to prevent human pathogens from entering the food supply.