New Beverage Microbiology Tool

Currently, most beverage manufacturers test for contaminants using agar petri dishes made in-house or purchase pre-made dishes, which usually have a limited shelf life. 3M Food Safety hopes to change that with the launch of its new product, 3M Petrifilm Aqua Plates, a microbiology testing tool that detects four of the most common drink contaminants: heterotrophic count, coliform, yeast and mold, and enterobacteriaceae.

The sample-ready plates eliminate the need for agar preparation and contain a water-soluble gelling agent, nutrients, and indicators. They also have an 18-month shelf life. “Results from third-party testing have shown the 3M Petrifilm Aqua Plates perform similar to global standard methods,” said Eric Amann, global marketing development manager, 3M Food Safety, in a news release.

The company reported that in an industry study conducted with 292 food processing plants, technician productivity (as measured by tests completed per hour) improved by 80%, saving an average of 3.7 hours of technician time per day.

“This extends the application of a tool that has been very popular in the industry for the last 25 years, the Petrifilm plate, to the beverage industry,” said Purnendu C. Vasavada, PhD, professor of animal and food science at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls (UWRF), who noted that 3M presented the Aqua Plates at the Food Microbiology Symposium held at UWRF in October 2010. “Because you don’t have to combine media or make the plates, these plates save you a lot of time, and they don’t require a lot of training to use. They’re also very space saving, and since a lot of places don’t have big laboratory facilities and a lot of bench space, this will be very useful in those situations.”

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