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OKC firm developing tests aimed at making food safer

Great Plains Microbiology hopes to make its tests available to companies early next year.
BY BRIANNA BAILEY bbailey@opubco.com Published: February 14, 2013
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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.

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