E.coli contamination has been a continuous problem in food and water safety. The problem is perpetual and researchers are constantly looking for ways to make diagnosis and testing easier for the food manufacturing industry and for the agencies in charge of public health and safety.

A recent study seeks ways to use litmus paper to detect the presence of E.coli bacteria in water. According to head researcher, Dr. Clarke, the goal of the study is to find an ingenious way to use paper.

E.coli bacteria affect the pH values of water. In the range of 15 minutes to an hour, litmus paper can return results. The group used clean water, apple juice, milk and lake water for their experiment. Apple juice, milk and lake water each had negative and positive samples. The researchers then took note of the change in color of each sample in 0, 15, 30 and 60 minutes. The clean water, on the other hand, acted as a negative control.

The test kit will be a breakthrough diagnostic tool because of its very cheap cost. Swimming pools, private wells, lakes and even beaches can be tested in a short period of time. For now, the group is also developing methods for testing other contaminants such as Salmonella and Listeria which are also very common causes of food borne illnesses.

A recent E.coli contamination in the water system of Mercer Island, Seattle was reported during the first week of October. The residents were advised to boil the water before consumption.

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