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Listeria Food Recall Highlights Need for Faster Bio Threat Detection

The recent recall by Costco and Trader Joes of 47 million pounds of meat contaminated with Listeria, as reported by Food Safety News on May 12, 2016(1), demonstrates the need for faster and more cost effective bio-threat detection to ensure food safety, according to Ted Olsen, CEO of Baltimore-based biotech firm, PathSensors, Inc.

PathSensor’s latest solution uses a biosensor technology called CANARY®. CANARY®, an acronym for Cellular Analysis and Notification of Antigen Risks and Yields, was developed by MIT a decade ago. It has since been used successfully for homeland security and defense applications, and is now being deployed for food and plant safety.

“We need to upgrade existing pathogen detection processes in the food supply with technologies such as CANARY® that detect contamination earlier and with greater sensitivity,” Olsen explained. “Legacy approaches can take days to detect and identify threats, which results in higher downstream costs and greater health risks. CANARY® is easy to use, so food safety workers do not need extensive technical training,” Olsen commented.

Developed by scientists at MIT-Lincoln Laboratories, CANARY® incorporates pathogen-specific antibodies expressed on the biosensor surface which, in the presence of a pathogen (virus, bacteria or toxin), trigger a calcium release that activates bioluminescent proteins within the biosensor cell. These proteins generate light, which can be measured and analyzed. The technology’s performance has been independently tested and validated by multiple U.S. government agencies and laboratories.

According to Olsen, PathSensors has incorporated CANARY® into bio-threat detection systems for protection of government buildings from airborne threats, as well as the screening of mail, cargo, packages and suspicious powders for biological threats. The company is now working with food processing firms to implement CANARY® for food safety inspection.


About PathSensors, Inc.
PathSensors is a leading biotechnology solutions and environmental testing company. PathSensors provides high speed – high sensitive pathogen and threat detection solutions for the defense, homeland security, mail room screening, first responder, food processing and agricultural sectors. PathSensors’ innovative BioFlash and Zephyr detection systems use CANARY® technology licensed from the MIT-Lincoln Laboratory and are deployed by government and commercial agencies due to their speed, accuracy and ease-of-use. For more information, visit

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