SAN ANTONIO - For the past four years, the San Antonio Metro Health Department has had no way to effectively track deadly food-borne bacteria.
Thursday, the city council approved $56,000 in grant money to purchase a microbial identification system – putting Metro Health one step closer to finally have the equipment it needs to test food.
In 2008 when the city’s food testing equipment needed replaced, it never was.
Metro Health lab manager Mark Wade said the city has been vulnerable to potentially deadly food-borne illnesses ever since.
In 2010, when patients at a San Antonio hospital started coming down with Listeriosis, the city had to call in the state and the Center for Disease Control.
Wade said had the city had the equipment to run the tests itself right away, his lab technicians would have likely been able to trace the deadly bacteria to the celery at a south-side food processing plant faster.
He said having that ability might have saved the lives of some of the five people who died in the outbreak.
"That's not a dramatic statement,” said Wade. “It's true."
For the past eight months, using federal grant money Metro Health has been purchasing the latest in food testing equipment.
Lab manager Mark Wade said within months the city should finally be able to do what it hasn't been able to for years - quickly test for food-borne pathogens and better protect the citizens of San Antonio.