Lab Canada

Food safety network seeks partners to advance tools in the marketplace

Hamilton, ON – Global food safety is an ever-increasing public health issue, but even more so, with the current E coli crisis in Northern Germany that began in the past weeks. The rare evolved strain of E Coli appears to be one of the deadliest outbreaks identified.

“The preliminary gene sequence of this rare strain of E Coli revealed in Germany as the likely cause of the illness and deaths is one we have not seen here in Canada,” said Dr Mansel Griffiths, a Sentinel Bioactive Paper Network researcher and director, Canadian Research Institute for Food Safety at the University of Guelph.

Canadian researchers from the Sentinel Bioactive Paper Research Network have been working on food and water testing technologies since 2005.

“Our researchers have invented several platform technologies that are rapid, simple, and inexpensive that can detect pathogens and toxins in food and water. Scale-up of one of the platform technologies has yielded positive results and a prototype should be available for evaluation in the 4th quarter,” said Dr George Rosenberg, managing director of the Sentinel Bioactive Paper Network. “The challenge now is taking this product from the research laboratory and finding practical ways for its manufacture.”

The platform technologies that Sentinel researchers have successfully developed with other E Coli strains demonstrate that they should be able to adapt these platforms to detect new and serious pathogens that threaten human life.

“Adaptation would still take a few months for new strains and pathogens, but we fully expect it can be done, and done more quickly if industry partners come forward to support the commercialization process,” said Dr John Brennan, Sentinel researcher, McMaster University professor and inventor of the paper-based sensor.

They say that paper-based biosensors offer one of the best approaches for food safety monitoring because of their low-cost, simplicity, and rapid response time. These factors make it particularly attractive as a food and water safety tool for developed and developing countries.

More information on Sentinel Bioactive Paper Network is available at