The Fresh Produce Safety Centre (FPSC) is today releasing the results of a survey of the fresh produce industry on the developing field of rapid diagnostic methods (RDM) for foodborne pathogens. The survey is a follow-up from the FPSC’s recent report, Rapid Diagnostic Methods for Foodborne Pathogens Outlook for the Fresh Produce Industry, which reviewed the field of RDMs.

The survey results are being released to coincide with and celebrate Australian Food Safety Week and this year’s food safety week theme ‘Food safety – be prepared.’

The survey results indicate that many industry survey respondents already perform some kind of in-house microbial testing on a regular basis, but fewer than 20% of survey respondents currently use any form of rapid diagnostic technique for their in-house microbial testing.

Overall, industry respondents have a preference for an accurate, low-cost-per-test RDM, capable of returning a quantitative result on levels of Listeria, E. coli and Salmonella, ideally in less than three hours.

Other results from the survey include that 59% of respondents perform microbial tests at least monthly, with 10% performing tests at least daily. The majority of respondents (75%) indicated that their testing is currently being carried out by third-party providers, although some businesses perform tests both in-house and by a third party, with an overall 46% doing at least some tests in-house.

From the FPSC Chairman Michael Worthington: “The FPSC has conducted this survey as part of its 2025 Innovation Agenda, which is aiming to identify innovative or game changing approaches to food safety for fresh produce. We believe that rapid diagnostic methods may be a game changer, if the technology can deliver on the promise of fast, accurate, inexpensive and easy-to-use microbial tests.”

Dr Jo Rush, who analysed the results, said: “The results of the survey include that respondents ranked the accuracy of RDMs as the most important factor, ahead of speed, ease of use and cost.”

Dr Rush elaborates “What is very encouraging is that over 70% of respondents would be interested in using a suitable RDM as a “first stage” test in their business to verify processes.”

Next steps include reviewing available tests meeting the preferred parameters, with the aim of identifying a selection of tests suitable for industry trials.

Read the full industry survey results here.

Visit the FPSC 2025 Innovation Agenda to find out more.