The National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), in collaboration with Hyderabad-based Bioserve Biotechnologies Ltd, has developed a food pathogen detection kit that can complete the food analysis and identify the pathogen in a day.

Dubbed as PCR-based food pathogen detection kits, the cost of the indigenous technology is 40 to 50 per cent less expensive than the existing conventional kits.

The PCR-based food pathogen detection kit has been developed to identify five pathogenic organisms including e.coli, salmonella, staphylococcus aureus, vibrio cholerae and vibrio parahaemolyticus. “There is a need to identify pathogens quickly so that preventive and controlling measures can be taken up quickly. In conventional methods, depending on the type of pathogen, it takes five to 10 days to detect a pathogen,” said V. Sudershan Rao, Scientist, Food Safety Division, NIN.

The NIN researchers said that PCR-based pathogen detection kits can identify even minute quantity of pathogen loads. The polymerised chain reaction (PCR) based technique involves synthesis of multiple copies of a specific DNA to confirm presence of pathogen, researchers said.

“We have done enough validations and are confident that the product will be launched quickly. These kits can reduce the cost and time drastically,” researchers said.

Imported food pathogen kits in India cost upwards of Rs. 20,000 while the indigenously made PCR-based food pathogen kits of NIN is Rs. 11,000.

“We have planned to make PCR-based kits to detect 16 different pathogens in food and water. At present, we have come out with five pathogens and the rest will follow soon,” said Director of NIN, B. Sesikeran, during the launch.

Each PCR-based pathogen detection kit allows users to take 25 to 50 readings depending on the type of pathogen. “Almost all labs in India use costly pathogen detection kits. The PCR-based kit is indigenous and we have kept the cost under control,” Bioserve scientists said.

According to NIN scientists, Food Safety and Standards Act makes it mandatory for evaluation of water, milk products, spices and other food items for pathogens.

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