Due to the lack of electricity and thermostatic instruments in certain settings for convenient detection of Cronobacter species in powdered infant formula (PIF), a novel investigation was conducted to establish an electricity-free visual detection system for rapid detection of Cronobacter species in PIF. This system included a portable electricity-free heater that could use the exothermic reaction of calcium oxide and water and 3 kinds of phase change materials to supply 3 constant temperatures for immunomagnetic separation, DNA extraction, and loop-mediated isothermal amplification assay. Meanwhile, the amplified reaction combined with hydroxynaphthol blue could achieve rapid visual detection. Primers designed based on the 16S-23S ribosomal RNA internal transcribed spacer were used in loop-mediated isothermal amplification to specifically monitor Cronobacter species, and the detection limit can reach 4.2 × 102 cfu/g in PIF by an electricity-free heater in 2 h 30 min. Moreover, 2 h of pre-enrichment was necessary when the level of the PIF samples with Cronobacter spp. was 100 cfu/g. The stability of the system was evaluated in ambient temperature at 4°C, 25°C, and 37°C. The results suggested that the electricity-free heater can maintain 3 constant temperatures to support different processes. Therefore, this amplification and visual system is applicable for use in many fields for rapid and specific detection of Cronobacter species in PIF.
Keywords: Cronobacter species electricity-free visual detection immunomagnetic separation loop-mediated isothermal amplification powdered infant formula