Chicago, IL, July 16, 2014 – The Silliker Food Science Center, a leading contract research organization and part of Mérieux NutriSciences Corporation, announced the opening of a new Virus Detection Laboratory in Crete (Chicago area). The new addition to the Food Science Center is the second laboratory in the company’s international network dedicated to virus detection, joining Chelab Silliker in Resana, Italy, which launched its services earlier this year.
“Globally, there are only a handful of laboratories dedicated to virus detection“, said Silvia Scolari, Ph.D., Toxicology and Virology Manager at Chelab Silliker. “With the opening of our laboratory in North America, Mérieux NutriSciences is making a significant investment in this highly important field of testing and research.” Wendy McMahon, General Manager of the Food Science Center, added, “With the ongoing advent of new methods and technologies in virus detection, we are continuously expanding our services to meet the needs of industry worldwide.”
Viruses are a leading cause of food-borne poisonings in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), they account for almost 50% of disease outbreaks. Annually, norovirus causes about 21 million illnesses and contributes to about 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths.
Typically, viruses are present in foods in low numbers, and their identification in traditional cell cultures is difficult or impossible. Recent diagnostic advances, such as RT-PCR, have greatly advanced the detection of food borne viruses. With RT-PCR, the detection limit of norovirus (GI and GII) and hepatitis A is 1-10 copies depending on the quality of the RNA purification from the food matrix. Utilizing a commercially available RT-PCR detection kit, the new laboratory provides testing for Norovirus GI / GII and Hepatitis A in a number of matrices including: water, shellfish, fruits, vegetables and herbs and spices. Analytical services are also available for environmental swabs. The employed method was adapted from ISO 15216-1 and ISO 15216-2. Secondary screening and confirmatory testing are also available.