A novel biosensor to detect Salmonella is being developed. The optical sensor is based on fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET). Antibodies are labeled with fluorescent dyes that will change their fluorescence based upon binding of Salmonella antigens to the Salmonella antibodies. A detection limit of 2.0 µg/ml was achieved for in-solution measurements. The labeled antibodies were also immobilized onto optical fibers and then exposed to specific and nonspecific antigen. The benchtop sensor displayed the limit of detection of 103 cells/ml.

The new immunosensor developed by this research will be utilized as an efficient and accurate alternative to monitor bacterial contamination in pork. Such a system will be able to reduce the large economical burden caused by product recalls and medical treatments. This biosensor is portable and will be easy to use, especially for pork producers who do not have knowledge of food microbiology. It will permit a rapid on-site monitoring (during slaughter) system for pork product safety. In addition to the benefits that could be realized by the pork industry, a broader impact is the development of new diagnostic sensor arrays that could improve in the quality of food monitoring systems.