Using 3M™ Molecular Detection System: Q&A with QuanTEM Food Safety Laboratories

June 06, 2023

As food safety testing labs are faced with supply chain challenges, technician shortages, and increased testing volume, demand for contract labs, such as quality assurance lab QuanTEM Food Safety Laboratories in Oklahoma City, Okla., has increased. In order to improve lab efficiency and meet growing demands in an industry that can impact public health, food safety labs need to take measures to ensure their routines and systems won’t be a hinderance in providing quality services to customers.

How Technology Can Help Labs Simplify and Standardize Workflows

Using a single post-enrichment protocol for all pathogen tests can help contract labs save time on testing and training by streamlining the process. The 3M Molecular Detection System can help labs further optimize their post-enrichment protocol through the use of LAMP (loop-mediated isothermal amplification) technology, a modern technology that amplifies DNA and enables technicians to perform up to 96 tests in a single 60 to 75-minute run. Additionally, the 3M Molecular Detection System’s ready-to-use reagents minimize the chance for error, a color-change process control gives lab technicians increased confidence and a streamlined workflow. When comparing time-to-results for Salmonella detection, the system can reduce technician labor time relative to competitive methods by up to 62%.

We sat down with Cameron Kedy, Director of Microbiology and Food Safety at QuanTEM Food Safety Laboratories, to talk about his lab’s experience using the 3M Molecular Detection System to increase efficiency.

How has the Molecular Detection System made your lab flow more efficient and saved your technicians time?

Cameron Kedy: The efficiency of the 3M Molecular Detection System setup and workflow is proving to be more user friendly than our previous genetic testing systems. With the 3M Molecular Detection System, we can set up multiple runs, catering them to each client’s specific needs, and then run them simultaneously or back-to-back. It also allows us to set up and save runs for subsequent days, and check if there are presumptive positives 15–25 minutes in, whereas we were unable to see results until the run was completed with our previous systems.

At our lab, we conduct confirmation testing for our clients, so being able to catch a positive result earlier in the test, we can then carry out confirmation testing earlier in the day and provide both results to the client at a faster rate. Catching something even 30 minutes sooner helps us provide superior customer service. Transparency and quick communication with clients are something we take pride in, and the 3M Molecular Detection System has supported us in that.


Can you speak more about the protocol of the 3M Molecular Detection System and how it affects your technicians’ ability to be trained?

CK: In general, our process has been simplified with the adoption of the 3M Molecular Detection System because we are able to use non-proprietary enrichment media, which is easier to stock and less expensive. Previously, our system required a secondary enrichment, which added time to the process and thus more training. This became especially cumbersome when we were facing decreased training and onboarding time with the labor shortages. Related, the incubation times are simpler. We now need less incubators given we only work with two different testing temperatures and only need one media for both Salmonella and E. coli.

The test kits themselves have also made training new technicians easier. The different colors of the reaction tubes match up to the colors used within the software, making the process very intuitive and thus easy to teach. It’s surprising, but not uncommon, how many mistakes are made at this step, so eliminating a large chance of error through color-coding makes the process much easier in the long run.

“The different colors of the reaction tubes match up to the colors used within the software, making the process very intuitive and thus easy to teach.”


Can you elaborate on the increased efficiency in having a single enrichment, especially for E. coli and Salmonella?

CK: With the 3M Molecular Detection System, using a single enrichment media means our lab is spending less time prepping media during the week. We had previously validated a different enrichment for E. coli than Salmonella, which our lab was looking to consolidate. Being able to use a single enrichment has been tremendous from an optimization and efficiency standpoint for our lab.


As a small- to medium-sized lab, how does the increased efficiency and quicker turnaround help to differentiate yourselves from other labs?

CK: Each client has a different protocol when it comes to positive results: one wants a call immediately after a positive result, while one wants confirmation testing ran before contacting. Being able to compile that information and provide clients with the requested information at a faster rate has not only been great for our customer service, but helps clients avoid entire production shutdowns, potentially saving them tens of thousands of dollars. Being a small lab, we are stringent about turnaround times and communication. The ability to communicate results quickly with the 3M Molecular Detection System is something that's really brought a lot of success and growth to us as well as multiple large clients continuing to choose and value us over a competing larger lab.


What has your lab’s experience been with our customer support for the 3M Molecular Detection System?

CK: There are several things that I have been very pleased about the support they have provided us. For example, the systems we previously had in our lab required a tremendous amount of work, almost a full day's worth. We would need to move from one computer to another and then the system needed to conduct self-tests every day, which it oftentimes failed. The 3M Molecular Detection System, however, turns on quickly and easily. I recently had to move the instrument to another computer and had to contact a customer representative. The timeliness of their response meant the system was moved and ready to run samples within 30 minutes.


The 3M Molecular Detection System can help increase efficiency through decreased sample testing time, online lab training and support, high throughput, and fewer steps — all of which enable real-time results for faster decisions.

Review the 3M Molecular Detection System technical data to understand the benefits of switching to a more efficient pathogen testing technology. Request a food safety expert to demonstrate the products features.


Category: Food Safety, Customer Testimonials, Dietary Supplements, Food & Beverage, Pharmaceutical & Biotech, Microbiology, Pathogens