Peanut Butter for the Hungry

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Interview with Ted Andrew, Director, Product Marketing and Dan Behler, VP, Marketing

How does the Atlas brand of food safety pathogen detection differentiate Roka Bioscience as a leader in molecular diagnostics?

trainer monitorThe Roka Bioscience Atlas System combines multiple molecular technologies, unique genetic targeting, and full automation to provide the most accurate results across a wide variety of food matrices. The Atlas System provides the only true walkaway automation currently available for food testing according to Ted Andrew and Dan Behler.

One key difference is while most molecular technologies target DNA, we target ribosomal RNA (rRNA), which has more targets in a cell creating higher sensitivity and enabling faster time to results, adds Dan. For example, there can be up to 10,000 copies of rRNA versus only 1 copy of DNA in a targeted bacterial cell.

Roka Bioscience leverages three different molecular technologies: Target Capture, concentrating and purifying the target; Transcription-Mediated Amplification (TMA), generating a billion-fold amplification of signal in as little as 30 minutes; and Hybridization Protection Assay (HPA), ensuring only the pathogen of interest is detected with “clamp-down” specificity. These offer tremendous advantages in accurate and reliable food pathogen testing across a wide diversity of matrices, particularly the challenging ones.

The Roka Bioscience system “enables us to reduce the complexity of molecular testing and makes it more acceptable to a wider and more accurate application” for food safety testing, adds Ted.

How was the Atlas Food safety system developed?

Hero finThe Atlas System was derived from a similar platform used in clinical diagnostics to diagnose human disease and screen the majority of donated human blood, says Dan. Roka Bioscience was established as an independent company in 2009 as a spinout of GenProbe’s (now Hologic) testing assets. Hologic continues to focus on human disease testing, while Roka Bioscience leveraged this technology to develop rapid, highly accurate molecular assays for food safety applications.

Since 2009, we have been developing the Atlas System solely for food pathogen testing, which is the most advanced pathogen testing system for the food safety industry available in the market today.

How many applications are there with the Atlas Food safety system?

The Atlas System has five different assays for screening pathogens. We work with customers to develop unique applications for their specific needs that fall into these areas such as Listeria, Salmonella, Escherichia coli, and other organisms found in food contamination.

“This is a very exciting,” adds Ted, “as we partner with our customers and focus solely on food safety we are discovering new and creative uses for our technology” For example, we are currently working with a poultry producer to develop a special Limits test for salmonella that allows in process results that enable them to make manufacturing and processing decisions as well as enhance potential mitigation controls. The decision is based on the level of pathogen in the product. This has a positive impact on production which can be applied to many different industries.

By developing a true partnership with our customers, we are able to develop symbiotic dynamic where we continue to be at the forefront of industry issues while helping to both educate and collaborate at the research level.

Is it an easy system to use for peanut butter, snack and candy manufacturers?

The Roka Bioscience Atlas food safety system is fully automated and very easy to use. A single transfer step is all that is required for the operator on our system. By reducing the complexity of the methods, offering standard methods across different assays types, and having unparalleled traceability, the Atlas system offers the industry an accessibility to molecular testing never before available.

How has APC membership enhanced your partnership with the peanut industry?

We are very happy to be a part of the American Peanut Council. We look forward to the opportunity to collaborate and educate the industry with our technology and to simplify our message: “How do we help our customer understand the technology and develop ways to use to it as a true business solution advantage.”

Our system is highly accurate and it works in three easy steps, according to Ted:

  1. Enrich the sample in culture overnight.
  2. Transfer a portion of the culture into transport tubes.
  3. Insert the transport tube into the Atlas instrument for accurate, reliable, and timely results.

It is a complex system that is simplified. Manual steps provide opportunities for errors. The Atlas is fully automated, which greatly reduces the chance for errors. Roka Bioscience brings great value to a wide variety of food producers. We partner with our customers to understand the nuances that are unique to each food manufacturer.

Roka Bioscience is committed to the food industry and our “true partnership” with our clients brings success on all fronts.

For more information, please visit: or contact:

Ted Andrew,

Dan Behler,