B2P Makes ‘Best of What’s New for 2010’ List
Food Safety Tester from B2P Makes ‘Best of
What’s New for 2010’ List
By Popular Science Magazine
November 17, 2010 –
A hand-held, easy-to-use device that can safeguard the food supply against bacteria and other contaminants was named to the ‘Best of What’s New for 2010’ list by Popular Science Magazine.
The B2P MicroMagic Microbe Testing System (www.B2PGlobal.com), originally developed in New Zealand and in use there as well as Australia and East Africa, has just been introduced to the American market.
Food safety is a critically important issue for both consumers and industry worldwide, says Dr. Rosemary Sharpin, the biotechnologist who invented the testing system. “Even in the United States and other advanced economies, contaminated items can move through the food supply chain faster than traditional detection systems can find and stop them,” says Dr. Sharpin. “With the B2P system, we can often identify unsafe items before they leave the field or factory.”
Each year, 76 million people in the United States get sick from food contaminated by e. coli, salmonella and other contaminants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 300,000 Americans are hospitalized annually, and 5,000 – many of them young children – die from food-borne illnesses. The toll in less-developed countries is far higher.
The problem, Dr. Sharpin explains, is that conventional safety testing requires samples of food items to be transported to a microbiology lab where trained technicians test them under carefully controlled conditions for 36 to 90 hours. By the time the results are in, many food items are likely to have been packed, shipped to stores and restaurants, and purchased by consumers.
The B2P system avoids these delays with fast, automated, at-the-source testing. This allows contaminated foods to be found right on the farm, at the factory or in a restaurant kitchen, and quarantined immediately.
The entire B2P system is designed to be rugged enough for use in the field, and simple enough to require no technical training. Dr. Sharpin notes that in Australia, testing of water supplies is routinely performed with the B2P system by workers whose main job is repairing the road pavement.
To conduct a test, a one-ounce sample of the food item is placed in a single-use container, about the size of a jar of baby food, that includes 100 ml of sterile water. The container is then sealed. The press of a thumb on the lid releases a growing medium into the water. The jar is placed in a portable incubator, which is about the size of a half-gallon bottle of milk.
The incubator heats the jar, then runs an automated series of tests and displays the results in plain language on a readout panel. Some tests are completed in as little as 10 minutes, while others take up to 12 hours – still in time to keep the tainted items out of the supply chain.
The liquid in the jar is blue when the test begins, and turns pink if contamination is found. The blue-to-pink color change is the origin of the company’s name, B2P Inc.
After testing is completed, a thumb press on the bottom of the sample jar releases a chemical which sterilizes the contents so the jar can safely be discarded. Because the jar is sealed throughout the testing, the incubator is immediately available to process additional samples.
The cost of the system is $4,000 for the incubator, and $25 for each testing unit.