Method for rapid detection of Salmonella in meat products through biotechnology

Posted by on Jun 18, 2015 in Activities, News | 0 comments







UP Diliman is conducting a study with support from the Department of Agriculture Biotechnology Program to improve methods of detecting Salmonella in raw meat and meat products by looking at the genetic blueprints of the organism and analyzing the mechanism for its transmission and proliferation.


A certain group of bacteria causes approximately 90% of all food-borne illnesses in the world. Within such group, Salmonella is one of the most frequently reported and recognized cause of gastroenteritis and enteric fever, collectively known as food poisoning. Studies have revealed that swine, poultry and cattle are very common carriers of this virulent microbe.


Hog livestock is the largest meat and livestock industry in the Philippines, having over two million metric tons of production in 2014 as recorded by the Philippine Statistics Authority. The industry is constantly challenged by various microbial diseases. Salmonellosis is one of the dreaded diseases that cause huge monetary losses because of morbidity-linked reduction in productivity and increased costs for disease treatment.


The challenge of Salmonella is exacerbated by the difficulty in detecting this pathogen. Standard culture methods are inadequate since the number of bacterial cells shed from the animals is very low and well below the tests’ detection threshold. The International Standardization Organization subsequently created a method to detect Salmonella by first enriching the sample in liquid culture to make it more adequate for the tests, but this takes 5 days to complete.


“If we are able to create a protocol for the molecular detection of Salmonella, it will allow rapid detection of the organism and its sources. We can further characterize the organism, control outbreaks and identify exactly what the mechanisms of transmission were,” asserts Dr. Windell Rivera, Professor of Microbiology at the Institute of Biology in the University of the Philippines Diliman. Dr. Rivera leads the research project. “This is all made possible with a biotechnological method called Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), which has been found to be highly sensitive, very specific, fast and reproducible.”


The study further aims to find the prevalence of Salmonella species in slaughtered swine and other livestock and poultry—both in raw meat and meat products—in wet markets in Metro Manila. The research team will also classify the Salmonella species according to what antigens they have. Antigens are proteins on the surface of microorganisms that are used by the host to identify a foreign microbe for purposes of defense and immunity.


Classification of the species is significant to determine the subsequent appropriate prevention, control, and treatment methods. This has the ability to tell epidemiologists, public health stakeholders, and policy-makers which types/groups of the species to focus on and prepare for.


The research team is also looking into the possible emergence of strains that are resistant to antibiotics, particularly ceftriaxone and ciprofloxacin, used to treat bacterial infections in humans.


“Imagine rapid, cost-effective detection of Salmonella. Better detection and better epidemiological data would mean better control strategies and better policies. We can also evaluate our current policies and adjust accordingly. Most importantly, this study can help ensure safer meat and meat products for consumers and improve further the growth of the agricultural and livestock industry in the Philippines,” concludes Rivera.
The Biotechnology Program of the Department of Agriculture, whose mandate is to provide support for the development of safe and beneficial biotechnologies, is supporting the study.


For more information, please contact:


Windell L. Rivera, PhD
Project Leader / Professor of Microbiology
Institute of Biology, College of Science
University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City 1101


Antonio A. Alfonso, PhD
Director, Biotechnology Program Office
Department of Agriculture
Tel No. (632) 922-0057 / (632) 927-0426


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