Hygiena Introduces New Tests for Salmonella in Poultry and Bacteria in Edibles

Hygiena Introduces New Tests for Salmonella in Poultry and Bacteria in Edibles

Sal Quant uses BAX System for Real-Time Amount-quantifying PCR; MicroSnap detects three major pathogen indicator in cannabis-infused foods.

July 25, 2019

Camarillo, Calif.-based Hygiena, a global provider of food safety technology, introduced a method that uses the BAX System for Real-Time PCR to quantify the amount of Salmonella in poultry facilities. The method, which is an alternative to the traditional Most Probable Number (MPN) technique, was unveiled at the International Association for Food Protection annual meeting in Louisville, Ky.

Salmonella has been a constant concern for the poultry industry, and USDA has begun demanding prevalence levels of no higher than 23% in a facility. Currently, poultry production facilities have been recording 50% prevalence rates on average, and processors have been searching for better, more accurate detection and quantification techniques that provide increased resolution into their food safety programs, the company said.

Salmonella naturally thrives in poultry and can spread throughout the carcass during processing, resulting in a chronic challenge for the industry,” said Tyler Stephens, Hygiena territory sales and government affairs manager and a co-inventor of the Salmonella-Quantification (Sal Quant) method. “The BAX PCR solution generates rapid, real-time data in the processing facility, giving processors the actual size—and source—of reservoirs harboring Salmonella.”

The Sal Quant method uses the BAX System Q7 and BAX System PCR assay for Salmonella, performing real-time PCR on samples collected from a facility, he said. Running samples on the Q7 generates cycle threshold values (CT) for positive samples, which can be used to quantify the number of colony-forming units (CFUs) in any sample. Lower CTs indicate a higher level of contamination, and data curves from these results can be computated to determine levels of contamination.

“The BAX Sal Quant results provide real data for making key decisions like slaughter order, corrective actions, line speed, gut health and water contamination,” said April Englishbey, Hygiena technical support specialist and Sal Quant project manager. “This alternative to MPN can be used in almost any industry matrix, including boot swabs, ceca, whole viscera packs, whole bird, parts, and skin rinsates, and ground turkey or chicken final products. You can literally enumerate bacteria from flock to final product.”


MicroSnap. At IAFP, the company also announced a new method for rapid detection of potential bacterial pathogens in cannabis-infused cookies and cannabis flowers, without interference from existing, harmless microbes, based on its MicroSnap bioluminescence technology.

Hygiena’s study showed that the MicroSnap method could detect Enterobacter, Coliform and total viable count bacteria in five hours in spiked samples of cannabis flowers and infused edible cookies. Cannabis has a diverse microbiome of beneficial microbes that do not harm humans, making it necessary to determine minimum threshold values that indicate safety.

In Hygiena’s study, the lowest concentration of experimentally inoculated bacteria in cannabis-infused suspensions, which varied depending upon target bacteria and sample types, was detected in eight hours. The study shows that MicroSnap bioluminescence can provide a significant measure of safety testing in the growing Cannabis-infused food market, and legalization in certain U.S. states and countries worldwide has led to a need for more rapid testing of products.

“Our study shows that rapid microbiological methods can be successfully applied to the growing cannabis food industry,” said Brandon Katz, Hygiena research scientist. MicroSnap tests use a unique bioluminescence reaction that generates light when enzymes characteristic of the target bacteria react with specific molecules in the test. Light reactions are then quantified as relative light units (RLUs), which can determine any possible contamination over a threshold value determined by the tested substances. Thresholds were set using the background signal average and three times standard deviations. According to Hygiena:

  • For Coliform—the lowest concentration of potential pathogens was detected in eight hours. The lowest inoculum for cannabis flower and edible product was detected after just 5 and 6 hours. RLU thresholds of positive results ranged from 8 to 250 RLUs.
  • For Enterobacter—detection in all flower strains occurred within 8-hour and as early as the 5th hour. RLU thresholds for all strains were >2 RLUs.
  • For Total Viable Count--detection occurred within 8 hours for all three strains. The lowest bacterial concentration with edible was detected in 7 hours. RLU thresholds were >8 RLU for strain 1 and >3 RLU for the other two strains and the edible.

Cannabis is rapidly expanding as an ingredient in a variety of foods, including baked goods, oils, drinks, and butter. While some states have enacted safety regulations and FDA has begun to regulate hemp-related products for safety, cannabis companies run higher risks of producing contaminated and unsafe products. Hygiena’s study shows how a cannabis food manufacturer could use MicroSnap to first set RLU threshold levels for its products and tests, and then detect any bacterial contamination that produces RLUs in excess of those thresholds. The study is available from the IAFP website here.