The WLA exists to connect and communicate to laboratory technicians, to promote sound environmental, personal health, and safety practices and to provide awareness to Good Laboratory Practices and quality measurement tools to improve laboratory processes.
Tag Archives: Lab
Unfortunately there are no shortage of food recalls due to allergens. Allergens are a serious business for the food industry and, of course, for consumers. Now there is a new line of allergen tests from a company with a familiar name synonymous with food safety testing to help take on this serious concern.3M Rapid Allergen Protein Test Kits are a Lateral Flow format, that provide significant savings and peace of mind. These Allergen Kits can test finished product, and environmental verification of allergy free food contact surfaces!
What these quick tests can provide is security that one of the “Big 8” is not present when a customer is starting up production after cleaning and sanitizing. What is the “Big 8?” Allergens…Dairy, Wheat (Gluten), Eggs, Peanut, Tree Nuts, Fish, Crustacean Fish, and Soy. The only allergen that 3M does not offer in the Lateral Flow format is the Crustacean Fish allergen, but they do offer it in the ELISA format.
The 18-24 hour Rapid E.coli/Coliform Petrifilm™ Plate is another new offering from 3M that we are excited to add to our line! It is a two-in-one indicator plate for both E.coli and Coliform, which works well with a wide variety of food samples. Previously, Coliform has always been 24 hours for indication of growth, but E.coli testing took 48 hours, which reduces release of product by a full day for basic microbiological testing when using this and the Rapid Aerobic Count Petrifilm Plates.
Regarding Petrifilm, you will start to notice a new, very clean looking package on all their Petrifilm products! All the packages are a redesigned white pack with easy-to-spot color-coded labels.
Lastly, we are setting up the new offering for the 3M Molecular Detection System, which is for the detection of Campylobacter (considered one of the leading causes of bacterial gastroenteritis in humans). Infections are usually caused by consuming cross-contaminated or insufficiently processed foods (typically red meat, poultry, shellfish and unpasteurized milk).
For additional information on these items or our full range of 3M products visit our website or contact our Lab Department today!
Food safety concerns are on all food manufacturers’ minds (and, honestly, probably in their dreams too), so it is critical to know how bacteria grow. Armed with that knowledge, we are better able to stay ahead of bacterial contamination in the food manufacturing facilities.
Often, when I was in the plant environment, I would refer back to a case study put together by the Royal Society for Public Health in 2010. It laid out some excellent basics on growth factors for bacteria in a concise manner that readers of The Wide Line may appreciate.
The RSPH states, “In order to grow, bacteria require a source of nutrients, an appropriate atmosphere, neutral or alkaline conditions, available moisture and an appropriate temperature. (In turn), the nutrient source needs to have available moisture, a source of energy, nitrogen, vitamins, and minerals.” A large number of bacteria are able to grow with or without oxygen. Some bacteria (obligate aerobes), will only grow if oxygen is present. Other bacteria (obligate anaerobes) will only grow in the absence of oxygen.
The RSPH’s “Growth Requirements of Bacteria” section continues: “Most bacteria grow best in a neutral or alkaline environment. Bacteria do not grow well in foods which are too acidic (with a pH of less than 4.5).” So, the more acidic the food, the less likely it is to support the growth of bacteria. In addition, foods that are dried or high in salt or sugar have a reduction in available moisture content, and bacteria will grow poorly on these foods.
Finally, “Most bacteria will not grow in cold conditions, or will only grow and divide slowly. High temperatures will also inhibit the growth of bacteria.” For example, most food poisoning bacteria die when exposed to a temperature of 70°C for two minutes or more. The optimum temperature range for the growth of most bacteria is 5°C to 63°C, which is known as the ‘temperature danger zone’.
The RSPH concisely acknowledges that there are multiple areas in all food production facilities that need to be assessed for risk regularly, as well as monitored daily in order to prevent microbiological product contamination. All processing steps have the potential to increase the chance of microbial corruption. Nelson-Jameson carries food safety products that assist with control and surveillance in every step of the production process—from ingredient receiving through manufacturing, storage, and shipping of finished products. Contact a sales representative today to find out how Nelson-Jameson can help strengthen your food safety prevention and protocol.
What is the difference between water activity and water “moisture” content? Well, it all depends on what you want to achieve. Do you want to monitor the amount of water and dry matter present in a product? Or do you want to increase and monitor the shelf stability of a product?
“Water ‘moisture’ content is the amount of water contained in a product”. Measuring water “moisture” content is better used to determine quality of the process. For example, if the product is a cheese powder that is spray dried, it is common practice to measure the water “moisture” content to determine yield and to ascertain if your drying process is running according to the diagnosed plan.
Water activity is defined as the measurement of the availability of free water for biological reactions—especially the biological reactions that can make humans and animals very sick. Water activity is more critical in the food industry. Bacteria love water; gram-negative bacteria like E.coli need a minimum of .97 moisture content for growth, and the Staphylococcal toxin produced by Staphylococcus aureus only needs a minimum of .93 for growth. To put this into perspective, know that pure water’s moisture content is 1.00. Thus, it is critical for food manufacturers to know and monitor the water activity before, during, and after manufacturing for safety. See the table below for the water activity and content levels of common foods:
Water Activity of Common Foods (aw)
fresh meats and fish: 0.99
moist cakes: 0.90-0.95
soy sauce: 0.80
jams, marmalades, jellies: 0.75-0.80
dried spices, milk powder: 0.20-0.60
Water Content of Common Foods (%)
salami, beef 60
dried fruit 31
wheat flour 11
Water activity is crucial to food safety. Microbes are everywhere, and will find any way possible to a food source, ultimately causing spoilage. Moisture analysis monitoring processes are set up to eliminate as many microbes as possible, with the key to moisture control and water activity being to find ways to bind the water so that it doesn’t allow microbes to find a food source—thus extending a product’s shelf life. Contact one of Nelson Jameson’s product specialists today to discuss your moisture analysis and water activity needs.