Micro Identification Technologies Inc. may be getting some serious traction in its drive to introduce a revolutionary new way of identifying pathogenic microorganisms. The company has created the MIT 1000, the world’s only non-biological automated system for identifying bacteria, using proprietary software to analyze and interpret the complex patterns generated by laser light reflected off the microbes. Compared to traditional methods of identification, the MIT 1000 offers a far quicker, simpler, and less costly way of spotting potentially dangerous contaminates.
The federal government has called for the passage of tougher food safety regulations based upon dramatic numbers regarding the toll caused by food borne illness in the U.S., and yet another case of salmonella contamination found in a food processing plant. The national cost of food borne illness is estimated to be a staggering $152 billion every year, with approximately 76 million people experiencing some sort of food related illness. Of those people, nearly 325,000 require hospitalization and 5,000 of them die. Antiquated laws and a lack of enforcement are prime targets, but old and costly technologies are also considered to blame.
Standard approaches to contamination identification require lengthy culturing to produce a large enough sample to be tested and evaluated. The process calls for trained staff and specialized equipment, which often means shipping samples off to distant laboratories and waiting days or weeks for results. The MIT 1000, on the other hand, requires minimal sampling and no skilled laboratory staff. The equipment is compact and automated, and can be easily kept and operated on site. Samples are exposed to laser light, and the complex patterns generated by the reflection from the sample are quickly and automatically evaluated by the system, resulting in a quick and highly accurate reading identifying 23 species of pathogenic bacteria at a fraction of the normal cost.
The company has already taken steps to scale up production and large scale food processing operations are expected to be the first in line to take advantage of the new system. But the food industry is only one market taking a close look at the technology, which can be used anywhere bacterial contamination is a threat, including semiconductor processing.