Full course description

1. Course Title: Rapid Detection Methods for Food Contaminants

2. Instructor(s): 

Instructor 1
Pratik Banerjee, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Public Health, University of Memphis, 
Memphis, TN 38152

Instructor 2
Arun Bhunia, Ph.D., Professor of Food Microbiology, Department of Food Science, Purdue 
University, West Lafayette, IN 47906

3. Texts or Major Resources:
3.1. No text book is required. Instructor will provide relevant course materials. Learners will be directed to free online authentic sources for extra information, as and when needed.

Frequently used online sources:
3.2. The Bacteriological Analytical Manual [Open access from FDA website] 
3.3. Microbiology Laboratory Guidebook [Open access from USDA website]
3.4. The Bad Bug Book [Open access from FDA website]

4. Course Description:
This is an intermediate level (“journeyman” or Level 2) course for food regulatory professionals and laboratory analysts. The course will provide in-depth information on rapid detection methods. This course is structured as a combination of several modules covering major rapid detection methods associated with foodborne  pathogenic and toxic factors in food environment, FDA / USDA detection and identification methods of microorganisms in food, and new and emerging detection and  validation methods. The main emphasis will be on immunochemistry and biosensor – based rapid and automated techniques currently used for detection and identification of foodborne pathogens. The techniques may include metabolic fingerprinting identification system, enzyme immunoassay and dot blotting, lateral flow assay, cytotoxicity assays and selected biosensor tools.

5. Course Goal(s):
1. Teach key concepts of rapid detection methods, covering biological and chemical methods of contaminants detection in food products and processing facilities Required Documentation for Virtual Food Systems Training Consortium (VFSTC) Courses
2. Prepare food regulatory professionals and laboratory analysts to identify and select appropriate rapid test methods for specific target microorganisms/toxins/hazards that cause foodborne illness, and OAOC methods of rapid detection

6. Learning Outcomes:
At the completion of this course, the inspectors/students will –
− learn about AOAC rapid testing methods to ensure food safety
− be able to critically think on the appropriateness of a testing method to be applied
for certain group/groups of food product
− be able to assess the validation measures for test methods and emerging 
− identify the key challenges associated with detection of contaminants from 
complex food matrices

7. Course Content:
The course will cover the following lessons. Each lesson is subdivided into several 
modules. Each module would consist of lecture and visuals (which may include 
animations and videos). Learners should be able to complete each module in 
approximately 10-15 minutes.

Lesson 1 Immunological Methods
Food regulatory professionals and laboratory analystswill be able to recognize major immunological methods used for microorganisms, toxins or allergens in foods. Specific details will be provided for the following methods:

  • Module 1.1. Principles of antibody-based assays (animation)
  • Module 1.2. Sample Preparation
    • Immunomagnetic Separation (animation)
  • Module 1.3. Enzyme immunoassay (EIA)
  • Module 1.4. Colony blotting 
  • Module 1.5. Lateral flow based methods (10 min video)
  • Module 1.6. Serotyping: Agglutination and co-agglutination (animation)
  • Module 1.7. Sensitivity and specificity of immunoassay
  • Module 1.8. Examples of detection selected foodborne contaminants
    • Microorganisms (Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli)
    • Allergens/antibiotic residues
  • Module 1.9. Examples of AOAC Immunoassay-based Methods
    • Standard methods
    • AOAC-RI approved methods

Lesson 2 Biosensors-based Methods
Biosensors are increasingly becoming the choice of diagnostics in food safety sector. Food regulatory professionals and laboratory analysts will receive basic information about this Required Documentation for Virtual Food Systems Training Consortium (VFSTC) Courses emerging detection approach including:

  • Module 2.1. Introduction to biosensors 
    • Need for biosensors in food diagnostics
    • Major types of biosensors
    • Principle of each type of biosensor-based detection technology
    • Advantages and disadvantages of each approach
    • Definitions of technical jargons associated with biosensor based detection methods 
  • Module 2.2. Electrical Chip-based biosensors (animation)
  • Module 2.3. Immunosensors
    • Fiber-optic sensors (animation)
    • Surface Plasmon Resonance sensor (animation)
    • Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy-based sensors (animation)
  • Module 2.4. Biosensors using living cells
    • Mammalian or eukaryotic cell based biosensor (animation)
    • Bacterial or prokaryotic cell based biosensors (animation)
  • Module 2.5. Selection of appropriate biosensor technology for specific application
  • Module 2.6. Biosensors available for food diagnostics
  • Module 2.7. Future of Biosensors in food diagnostics
  • Module 2.8. Examples of biosensors based methodology for food diagnostics with different food types (video)

8. Assessment Schedule:
e-Quizzes: Each lesson will have online timed quizzes (10 pts each) which will be given at
the completion of designated modules within that lesson. The quizzes will be of multiple choice 
tests (MCT) format. A final examination (40 points) will be given at the end of the course. The final 
examination will consist of MCT and True/False type questions.

9. Criteria for Successful Completion:
Learners must score at least 70% (7 out of 10) in each quiz to get credit for the 
module. If unsuccessful, he or she will have to retake the quiz.

Course Requirements


Percent of Total

1 Final Exam



6 Quizzes (10 points each)







Grading Scale

Percent of Points


90% and above








59% or below



10. Instructor Credentials:
Instructor 1
Pratik Banerjee, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Public Health, University of Memphis, 
Memphis, TN 38152

  • Dr. Pratik Banerjee is a food microbiologist and food safety expert. He has over 10 years of working experience in biosafety and biotechnology area. He is the head of the Molecular Microbiology and Environmental Laboratory at the University of Memphis. His laboratory is engaged in interdisciplinary research program in food microbiology and food safety; connecting both detection and intervention strategies. Every summer, he conducts a hands-on food safety workshop for non-technical audience and high school students.

Instructor 2
Arun Bhunia, Ph.D., Professor of Food Microbiology, Department of Food Science, Purdue 
University, West Lafayette, IN 47906

  • Dr. Arun Bhunia is a molecular food microbiologist. His area of specialization includes: Pathogen detection employing optical and electrical sensors including, protein biochip, light scatterings, fiber-optic and cell-based sensors. He has over 129 refereed articles, 2 text books (Fundamental Food Microbiology; Foodborne Microbial Pathogens: Mechanisms and Pathogenesis), 2 edited books, 15 book chapters, 33 proceeding articles, 137 research abstracts, 2 patents, and delivered 89 invited talks, keynote and plenary talks in national and international meetings.