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Portable device can quickly test for sickness-causing toxins in shellfish

Date:
September 30, 2015
Source:
American Chemical Society
Summary:
Mussels, oysters, scallops and clams might be ingredients for fine cuisine, but they can also be a recipe for diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP). That's a gastrointestinal illness people can get if those tasty morsels contain marine toxins. Now, researchers are reporting the development of a portable, inexpensive device that can quickly and easily screen freshly caught shellfish for these substances.
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Freshly caught shellfish can be quickly tested for sickness-causing toxins using a new portable device.
Credit: © vpardi / Fotolia

Mussels, oysters, scallops and clams might be ingredients for fine cuisine, but they can also be a recipe for diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP). That's a gastrointestinal illness people can get if those tasty morsels contain marine toxins. Now, researchers are reporting in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry the development of a portable, inexpensive device that can quickly and easily screen freshly caught shellfish for these substances.

DSP is caused by eating shellfish that have accumulated okadaic acid (OA) or related marine toxins. Algal blooms -- commonly referred to as "red tides" -- can produce these substances, which shellfish can accumulate through filter feeding. Because cooking the shellfish does not destroy the toxins, several regulations are in place to prevent the sale and consumption of tainted shellfish. To comply with these regulations, the current practice is to send samples to labs that use expensive, technically intense and slow tests. Waqass Jawaid and colleagues set out to develop an inexpensive, easy-to-use and portable device that maintained the rigorous testing standards of off-site labs but could quickly test shellfish on boats and at other remote locations.

The researchers adapted a test called a lateral flow immunoassay (LFIA), which is like a home pregnancy test strip. This LFIA combines simple test procedures with an antibody previously shown to specifically bind to three OA toxins. The small, portable device can accurately screen for presence of these substances in less than 20 minutes on a boat, before it goes further into the supply chain. If the test is positive, then the shellfish would not be sold. If the LFIA readout is negative, then an additional, easy-to-use test could be conducted dockside for "total toxins," which would include detection of a fourth type of OA.

The authors acknowledge funding from Innovate UK, Scottish Enterprise and Neogen Europe Limited.


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Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Waqass Jawaid, Julie P. Meneely, Katrina Campbell, Karrie Melville, Stephen J. Holmes, Jennifer Rice, Christopher T. Elliott. Development and Validation of a Lateral Flow Immunoassay for the Rapid Screening of Okadaic Acid and All Dinophysis Toxins from Shellfish Extracts. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2015; 63 (38): 8574 DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.5b01254

Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society. "Portable device can quickly test for sickness-causing toxins in shellfish." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 September 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150930092508.htm>.
American Chemical Society. (2015, September 30). Portable device can quickly test for sickness-causing toxins in shellfish. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 23, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150930092508.htm
American Chemical Society. "Portable device can quickly test for sickness-causing toxins in shellfish." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150930092508.htm (accessed May 23, 2017).

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