Currently, there has been an increased awareness among people for the safety of food items they consume. Customers’ increasing demand for fresh and proper types of products has triggered the advancement of food safety procedures in the food industry. Furthermost, the higher occurrence of foodborne illness outbreaks across the globe has led to increased concern and intensive research of foodborne pathogens. For this reason, there is an increased demand for microbiology testing.

What is Microbiology Testing?

The primary function of microbiology testing is to identify and restrict toxic microorganisms that can spoil food. This is to guarantee safety from foodborne ailments. That means that the quality assurance crew must establish an intensive testing process to identify all the threats. 

Before conducting a microbiology analysis, the analyst should know the purpose, necessity, and expectations underlying the test. The testing team should know the predicted certainty of identifying a problem and the possible outcome that might come out of the microbiology analysis. Consequently, this will help comprehend the sampling process to be conducted, the kind of samples to be used, the test technique to be utilized, and the proper actions to be taken. 

Reasons for Microbiology Testing

The common reason for conducting microbiology testing include:

  • Meet the required specification for raw materials, intermediate and end products
  • Identify risk factors
  • Procedure verification
  • Confirming that regulatory rules are followed

 Why Microbiology Testing

While microbiology testing is only one component of the food safety procedure and doesn’t guarantee 100 percent food safety, it’s a requirement and integral part that needs to be done to ensure product safety. Microbiology analysis can highlight vital details about the manufacturing procedure, processing environment, and specific food batch. It informs whether the testing\sampling process is designed correctly and finished following the regulatory rules or not. 

Nevertheless, one should understand that microbiology analysis can’t determine 100 percent safety from pathogens since the test. This is because tests are performed using samples, which account for a portion of the products. Microbiology testing helps you achieve that no pathogens are identified from the samples or realize the degree of sensitivity offered by the testing process and sampling techniques used. 

Common Methods of Microbiology Testing

a broad range of technologies are employed when identifying and verifying microorganisms. Some of these technologies include culture media, immunoassay, and polymerase chain reaction. 

Culture media 

A unique platform that is utilized in microbiological labs to detect and identify various types of microorganisms by growing or culturing. Typically, a culture platform comprises different nutrients to boost microbial growth. Conventionally, cultural methods have been the analysis of choice for fresh and ready-to-eat foods. 

Features

  • Different techniques are involved in culturing methods. For detection and identification of microorganisms in culture, solid and liquid culture platforms are used. 
  • Typically, microscopes are utilized to detect microbes in culture. Serological and biochemical techniques are utilized to differentiate different organisms. 
  • The quantitative and qualitative outcomes of microorganisms can be achieved using cultural techniques.

Immunoassay 

Immunoassay is utilized to identify the concentration of macromolecule in a substance using an immunoglobulin or antibody. In most cases, the detected macromolecule is a protein known as analytes. The analytes in biological fluids such as serum are measured following immunoassay test technique for different purposes.

Features 

  • Antibodies are utilized to identify and detect specific proteins that are predicted to be unique to the aimed microorganism. 
  • Quantitative and qualitative results can be attained
  • Techniques are sensitive when paired with culture enrichment 
  • Time to get the results range from 24-48 hours 

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)

This is the newest and revolutionary technique used in biological and medical laboratories as a common indispensable method for different applications. A Polymerase Chain Reaction test can identify pieces of RNA or DNA, which are expected to be specific to the target microorganism. This method is based on utilizing the capability of DNA polymerase and can produce many copies of a unique DNA sequence. 

Features

  • Selected segments of RNA and DNA can be regenerated using PCR methods
  • Test techniques can be rapid and sensitive, especially when paired with cultural enrichment 
  • Test results can be attained within 24 hours to 48 hours. This duration comprises the time for cultural enrichment. Nevertheless, PCR is performed in test tubes, and it will take a couple of hours to obtain the results.
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