Neogen's new Listeria test addresses new USDA directive

CONTACT: Edward Bradley, VP Food Safety Sales & Marketing, 517/372-9200


LANSING, Mich., Dec. 9, 2002 - With Monday's implementation of the USDA's directive to reduce Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat meat and poultry products, Neogen Corporation (Nasdaq: NEOG) has added another test to easily and accurately detect Listeria in food and environmental samples.

Neogen's GENE-TRAK® Listeria Microwell Test combines the superior specificity of DNA hybridization technology with the ability to rapidly process a high throughput, up to 93 samples, at one time. The GENE-TRAK test provides superior results with a minimum amount of equipment and training.

"Neogen's new test adds an exceptional Listeria-testing tool to address the concerns the USDA has outlined in its directive to reduce the occurrence of Listeria in food products," said James Herbert, Neogen's president. "We are pleased to provide the broadest line of testing options available to combat the increasing number of Listeria-related food recalls. Neogen's four different tests make the detection of this dangerous bacterium quick, simple and accurate."

A major advantage of the GENE-TRAK DNA hybridization technology is its highly-specific probes, which virtually eliminate false negatives and greatly minimize the chance of false positive results due to cross-reactivity with closely-related organisms. Eliminating the time-consuming confirmation effort and the cost of excessive false positives helps streamline a company's safety, quality and manufacturing processes.

In addition to the new test introduced today, Neogen has three other Listeria testing options. Reveal® for Listeria is an AOAC-approved, antibody-based test in a simple lateral flow device format that has been used very successfully by the food industry for more than eight years. Neogen's DNA probe test for Listeria monocytogenes has been accepted worldwide as the most accurate test for the deadly member of the Listeria species. The fourth Neogen option is a DNA probe test for general Listeria that also has been approved by the important third-party independent validation service, AOAC, using USDA guidelines.

"Neogen scientists have been actively involved in the development and improvement of diagnostic test kits to detect Listeria for many years," said Dr. Mark Mozola, Neogen's vice president of research and development. "Our four tests provide those in the food industry a choice to best fit their operation."

Under the USDA's directive, plants producing deli meats and hot dogs that do not have an evaluated environmental testing regime designed to find and take necessary actions to eliminate Listeria monocytogenes will be placed under an intensified testing program by USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Precooked products such as deli meats and hot dogs present the highest risk for Listeria-caused illness (listeriosis) because they are either not further cooked by consumers, or prone to be not sufficiently cooked by consumers to kill all possible bacterial contaminants. The USDA's intensified testing program will consist of increased testing of the final product, and testing of food contact surfaces and plant environment.

In September 2002, FSIS and CDC began an investigation into the cause of an outbreak of listeriosis that eventually sickened 50 people and resulted in seven deaths and three miscarriages in eight Northeastern states. Data gathered during this outbreak, as well as information from other food safety outbreaks over the past several years, led FSIS to the conclusion that some establishments are not adequately addressing the potential for bacterial contamination in their control measures.

Neogen Corporation develops and markets products and services dedicated to food and animal safety. The Company's Food Safety Division markets dehydrated culture media, and diagnostic test kits to detect foodborne bacteria, natural toxins, genetic modifications, food allergens, drug residues, plant diseases and sanitation concerns. Neogen's Animal Safety Division markets a complete line of diagnostics, veterinary instruments, veterinary pharmaceuticals and nutritional supplements.

Certain portions of this news release that do not relate to historical financial information constitute forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties. Actual future results and trends may differ materially from historical results or those expected depending on a variety of factors listed in Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations in the Company’s most recently filed Form 10-K.