Rheonix Inc. and Mérieux NutriSciences announce the successful conclusion of early-access customer evaluations of the Listeria PatternAlert assay, a breakthrough method for rapidly identifying molecular patterns from Listeria strains. The method assists food producers in identifying harborage sites for persistent Listeria and in tracing back sources of contamination. Results are available at roughly half the cost and time of alternative subtyping methods, enabling food customers to take rapid action to reduce the risk of contamination and recall. Rheonix and Mérieux NutriSciences shared the results of the evaluation in a case study at the International Association of Food Protection (IAFP) 2019 Annual Conference, July 21-24 in Louisville, Kentucky.

“There has been a growing need in the industry to have a deeper understanding of the source of Listeria contamination within a manufacturing facility,” said Dr. Tim Freier, Mérieux NutriSciences vice president of scientific affairs, microbiology. “This innovative technology, combined with Mérieux NutriSciences microbiology testing, will provide a truly practical solution that can greatly speed the investigation and corrective action process leading to finding and fixing the root cause of the problem.”

Alternative strain typing methods take up to two weeks to complete and require an isolate in pure culture. The Listeria PatternAlert assay, which is performed using the fully automated Encompass Optimum™ workstation, enables users to detect molecular patterns directly from a positive enriched sample, without the need for an isolate. With the PatternAlert software, users can match their patterns across locations and time to rapidly identify harborage sites and dissemination paths, enabling them to make real-time operational changes in their facilities.

In a case study released today, Mérieux NutriSciences describes its collaboration with a manufacturer to evaluate the practical application of the Rheonix Listeria PatternAlert technology. Mérieux combined the Listeria PatternAlert results with its EnviroMap visualization software to understand the frequency of patterns in the manufacturer’s facility and determine root cause. Analysis of results identified a harborage site in a warehouse as well as likely encroachment into a production area. As a result, Mérieux was able to recommend targeted actions to address the harborage site and encroachment.

“We were thrilled with the results of this evaluation, and with the insights the Mérieux team has provided throughout this collaboration,” said Brooke Schwartz, Rheonix vice president of strategy and marketing. “This case study shows the power of the Listeria PatternAlert assay to rapidly identify and address persistent Listeria in a food production facility. Manufacturers who were not able to use strain typing technology in the past now have a rapid, cost-effective method to employ to reduce the risk of finished product contamination in their facilities.”

Mérieux will begin rolling this method out to its laboratory network in the fall of 2019.