The first AOAC-certified product to enable pathogen results within an eight-hour shift has been approved. Pathotrak, a food safety technology startup, has announced the AOAC certification of its Rapid Pathogen Detection Enrichment Technology, which enables food safety tests within six hours. The AOAC certification for Pathotrak’s next-generation sample prep process applies to the detection of Salmonella and pathogenic Escherichia coli in romaine lettuce, and will soon extend the matrices to four additional leafy greens.

Pathotrak’s pathogen enrichment kits use a patented method of separating and concentrating pathogens from food samples by addressing the enrichment step of food testing, when samples are incubated for 22–48 hours until enough bacteria are grown to be tested effectively. Pathotrak’s technology incorporates a microfiltration process to create an environment where bacteria reproduce more quickly than they would traditionally.

According to Pathotrak, its foodborne pathogen enrichment kits fit into existing workflows, allowing microbiology labs to continue their use of existing PCR technology. The kits also work with growers’ historical data. 

Pathotrak’s foundational technology was jointly developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Maryland, and was licensed to the company. Pathotrak has since developed a range of technologies focused on expediting food safety tests across a variety of food matrices, sample sizes, and pathogens. The startup has three patents pending and plans to apply for another AOAC certification for a new technology that is two hours faster and applies to most produce and meat products. Pathotrak was also recently awarded a Phase 2 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Science Foundation for the Rapid Detection of Pathogens in [meat] Manufacturing Trimmings.