BAX System Detects Emerging Foodborne Pathogen That Strikes Infants


WILMINGTON -- DuPont today announced that its BAX detection system -- an innovative genetics- based screening method that accurately identifies dangerous bacteria and pathogens in food and food processing equipment within hours -- can now identify Enterobacter sakazakii in powdered infant formula, dry dairy and soy ingredients.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other agencies have identified Enterobacter sakazakii as an emerging foodborne pathogen that can cause meningitis, sepsis or necrotizing enterocolitis in newborn infants, particularly premature infants or other infants with weakened immune systems. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Enterobacter sakazakii can cause invasive disease in newborns. In cases where meningitis occurs, severe neurologic complications are common and death occurs in up to 80 percent of cases.

The U.S. FDA reports that investigations of several outbreaks of Enterobacter sakazakii infection occurring in neonatal intensive care units worldwide have shown the outbreak to be associated with milk-based powdered infant formulas. Since powdered formulas are not sterile products, they could contain opportunistic bacteria, such as Enterobacter sakazakii.

DuPont scientists collaborated with the Nestle Research Centers in Switzerland and the United States to develop the rapid detection of Enterobacter sakazakii in food and environmental samples through the use of the DuPont BAX detection system. The BAX system by DuPont Qualicon provides fully automated, genetics-based technology to identify bacteria and pathogens with better than 98 percent accuracy and fast results. The BAX system test provides reliable next-day results, even on samples with low levels of contamination of Enterobacter sakazakii.

"We are focused on providing solutions that help safeguard consumers and that apply advanced innovative technology to help global food companies," said Kevin Huttman, president of DuPont Qualicon. "We are pleased to continue growing the applications of the BAX system to include tests for emerging pathogens such as Enterobacter sakazakii. This new technological breakthrough could not have happened without the close strategic relationship and great co- development efforts between Nestle and DuPont."

The BAX system is a breakthrough screening method that provides reliable, DNA-based detection of target bacteria in raw ingredients, finished food products and environmental samples. The automated system, which takes little space and looks like a desktop computer, has been available since November 2000. Hundreds of BAX systems already are in use by governments, food companies and laboratories around the world. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service adopted the BAX detection system as the standard for identifying Listeria monocytogenes in the nation's meat and poultry supply.

The global diagnostics industry overall totals $27 billion annually, with the food diagnostics industry representing more than $1.7 billion.

DuPont Qualicon provides the most advanced molecular technologies for pathogen screening. In addition to the BAX system, DuPont Qualicon markets the patented RiboPrinter system, the world's only automated DNA fingerprinting instrument that rapidly pinpoints sources of bacteria in pharmaceuticals, personal care products and food.

Source: DuPont

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