Hygiena aerobic bacteria test backed by AOAC

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Hygiena MicroSnap Total
Hygiena MicroSnap Total

Related tags: Microbiology

Hygiena has been awarded Performance Tested Methods (PTM) validation from the AOAC Research Institute for its aerobic bacteria test.

MicroSnap Total detects aerobic bacteria down to 1-10 organisms in seven hours or less - 17 hours sooner than other AOAC-validated methods for detection and enumeration of aerobic bacteria.

It is a two-device test platform consisting of an enrichment and detection device. The assay is run from start to finish in seven hours with a 15 second read time.

Validated matrixes

MicroSnap Total is approved for a variety of foods and was validated against matrices for raw ground beef, raw chicken, lettuce, cream cakes and raw milk.

A few enzymatic-inhibiting matrices (certain seed spices) should not be used with the device.

To evaluate MicroSnap Total with a particular matrix, Hygiena laboratories provide an in-house product evaluation upon request and the firm also offers a free trial period.

Lauren Roady, marketing manager, told FoodQualityNews that manufacturers look to the AOAC for guidance and verification that a test performs to a standard and meets the claims published.

“Aerobic bacteria tests are the most common routine food microbiology test, so it’s a metric that many food plants rely on to monitor quality of foods produced and environmental hygiene. The most common method right now is chromogenic media, which is typically a two to three day test,” ​she said.

“Until MicroSnap Total was developed and now approved, there had not been much advancement or improvement to aerobic bacteria testing methods to make them faster or more convenient in recent years.

“We see food manufacturers open to change; the product needs to perform just as well as or better than their current method, be easier to use, and more cost-effective.”

Hours versus days

The firm said processors can collect samples at the beginning of a typical eight-hour shift and get results within seven hours to verify product quality or take corrective actions before end of the day.

Knowing a result on product and environmental samples by end of the shift allows food safety and quality personnel to react to contamination, release held products sooner for extended shelf-life and feel confident about quality and safety of food being processed.

Roady said until now total bacteria results were not ready for two to three days.

“Because processors cannot stop production (or in some cases hold product) while they await results, manufacturing continues or product is released while plates are incubating in the lab,” ​she said.

“Processors rely on their SOPs and other procedures to be working correctly to guarantee an outcome that meets specifications.

“However issues do arise that can compromise the quality of the food. Whether it’s equipment failure, new processes, or contaminated raw materials, issues do arise that result in high micro result.” ​ 

Roady said using chromogenic media, food manufacturers find out days later about potentially-compromised product and perhaps even longer when it comes to environmental contamination.

“With same-day results corrective actions can be taken up to three days earlier, drastically reducing unnecessary spoilage or waste and thus saving money,” ​she said.

“In some cases, depending on the cleaning program of the plant, if cleaning is complete by midnight, results can be available before the morning shift, reassuring the Quality Assurance group that SSOPs were followed and the plant is ready to safely produce food.

“This, combined with an ATP sanitation monitoring program, should give the QA group a lot confidence in the environment in which they are producing food and the quality of finished product.”

Other devices and future plans

MicroSnap devices are measured with the EnSURE Monitoring System, a luminometer capable of measuring adenosine triphosphate (ATP), Enterobacteriaceae, Coliform, E.coli, alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and acid phosphatase (ACP) tests.

It also has a test for MicroSnap Enterbacteriaceae now and MicroSnap Listeria Spp. is being released this year with approvals from the AOAC and MicroVal expected to follow shortly.

Hygiena is developing tests specifically for environmental microbiology testing – something that will become more greatly emphasized due to the FDA’s Food Safety Modernization Act, said Roady.

“AOAC PTM Validation is a very thorough process involving the cooperation of expert reviewers and scientists at both Hygiena and an independent validation laboratory,” ​she said.

“Since MicroSnap Total technology (bioluminescence) brings a new method to the table, all parties worked carefully ensure a thorough validation. In the AOAC study, MicroSnap Total demonstrates excellent equivalence to the ISO reference method for enumeration of bacteria in food samples.”

Hygiena said it also has a test in development which will allow food manufacturers to detect yeast and mold in less than 24 hours. 

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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