Foodborne illness outbreaks are becoming more frequent and far-reaching every day with no end in sight: The latest multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 infections, linked to contaminated romaine lettuce, has so far resulted in 53 cases of illness and 31 hospitalizations, including 5 cases of a type of kidney failure (i.e., Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome). Over a month after the onset of the outbreak, the source still remains unknown, prompting the CDC to warn consumers to avoid all types of romaine lettuce from the Yuma, AZ region since the exact origin of the product could not be determined. It is evident that the wash process was not effective in removing the contamination which was likely introduced at the field.
“Food processors have very limited tools to quickly verify, before shipment, the lethality of their wash processes on pathogenic bacteria that are sometimes present on fresh produce,” said Dr. Anthony Zografos, CEO of SafeTraces. “That is why SafeTraces is launching the first reliable, repeatable, fast, on-site test performed on the finished product to ensure appropriate washing by assessing decontamination and risk of cross-contamination of fresh produce.” SaniTracers™ are novel, FDA approved, food-grade microparticles that contain minute amounts of DNA and behave like pathogen surrogates, such as E. coli, during regular produce wash processes.
The technology was developed under an FDA-funded Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant and underwent rigorous evaluation and validation under a variety of conditions. “SaniTracers™ are a cost-effective, robust, and simple to use sanitation verification solution that integrates easily into any wash system,” said Dr. Laurie Clotilde, Director of Product Management. “SaniTracers™ tests are performed on-site by the customers, and they provide almost real time indication of the lethality of the wash process on pathogenic bacteria. Our solution provides food processors with increased confidence that they ship a safe, high quality product without affecting its shelf life through extended hold times.”
SafeTraces also offers a groundbreaking traceability solution for complete transparency of the origin of romaine lettuce as well as any other foods. Seaweed-based barcodes are applied directly on the food – not the packaging – at the origin and can be quickly recovered at any point in the supply chain to determine its provenance. The solution has already been applied to a number of commodities including fresh apples, citrus, green leafy vegetables (spinach, romaine, iceberg, and green leaf lettuces), oils (such as canola, palm, and olive oils), canola meal, grains, beans, fertilizers, etc.
“We are excited to partner with food processors who are universally striving to provide safer, higher quality food, and address the consumers’ demands for transparency, sustainability and purity,” said Zografos. “We are committed to providing complete, low-cost solutions that deliver results in minutes.”
SafeTraces provides the only food-safe source assurance solutions for fresh produce that protect producers, processors, and consumers. Our solutions enable customers to gain full transparency into origin, protect their brand, and reduce processing and recall costs.
Learn more about SafeTraces at www.safetraces.com