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Mol Biotechnol. 1997 Jun;7(3):267-78.

Impact of molecular biology on the detection of foodborne pathogens.

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HFS-516, CFSAN, FDA, Washington DC 20204, USA.


Molecular biological methods that use antibodies and nucleic acids to detect specific foodborne bacterial pathogens were scarcely known a decade and a half ago. Few scientists could have predicted that these tools of basic research would come to dominate the field of food diagnostics. Today, a large number of cleverly designed assay formats using these technologies are available commercially for the detection in foods of practically all major established pathogens and toxins, as well as of many emerging pathogens. These tests range from very simple antibody-bound latex agglutination assays to very sophisticated DNA amplification methods. Although molecular biological assays are more specific, sensitive, and faster than conventional (often cultural) microbiological methods, the complexities of food matrices continue to offer unique challenges that may preclude the direct application of these molecular biological methods. Consequently, a short cultural enrichment period is still required for food samples prior to analysis with these assays. The greater detection sensitivity of molecular biological methods may also affect existing microbiological specifications for foods; this undoubtedly will have repercussions on the regulatory agencies, food manufacturers, and also consumers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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