Based in a 3,000 square-foot laboratory at Presbyterian Research Health Park, Great Plains Microbiology is developing tests to prevent foodborne illnesses caused by salmonella and listeria.
In 2011, companies spent $3 billion on food testing for pathogens in the United States, and the price is expected to rise to $3.9 billion by 2017 as companies encounter heightened regulatory standards and testing costs, said Cyrus Zegrati, microbiologist and Great Plains CEO. He spoke at an Oklahoma Venture Forum luncheon on Wednesday.
Using technology developed to detect disease in humans, Great Plains has developed a fast and less expensive way for smaller companies to test for bacteria in food products.
The company has developed tests that allow food producers to look for a number of different types of causes of foodborne pathogens simultaneously, instead of more expensive and time-consuming individual tests.
The testing will allow smaller food producers greater access to sell their products to restaurant chains and large retailers such as Walmart, which require strict testing standards for foodborne pathogens, Zegrati said.
“This will increase access for food producers, limit the liability and help protect consumers,” Zegrati said.
Great Plains is a recent participant in The Oklahoma SBIR Collaborative Resource, a program led by the nonprofit i2E Inc. and the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology to increase federal Small Business Innovation Research grants in Oklahoma.
The program helped Zegrati write a proposal for a SBIR grant.
Great Plains hopes to make its new food testing technology available to companies in the first quarter of 2014 and hopes to boost its sales force by 2015 to aggressively seek out new food producers as potential customers for the Great Plains testing technology.
“We're going to go after those companies, and it's going to be fun,” Zegrati said.