A portable microbial contamination test can speed up time to result ensuring product can be cleared and shipped faster, according to its developers.
Speedy Breedy is a precision respirometer which detects and monitors microbial activity.
It can be programmed to be a screening device so detection time equates to a known contamination level, meaning users don’t have to wait for the test to complete before taking action.
The system offers a test for the detection of microbiological contaminants based on changes in pressure caused by microbial respiration.
Samples are added to a culture vessel containing a suitable medium and if they are present, contaminating microorganisms will begin to grow over a period of several hours.
Role of Speedy Breedy
Professor Annie Brooking, Bactest CEO, said the food industry sometimes uses environmental inspectors as a form of policemen.
“In the UK food industry the onus is on the food manufacturer to manufacture food fit for human consumption, the how is up to them. Whether they use a lab, in house system, HACCP systems or others and Speedy Breedy fits into this paradigm,” she told FoodQualityNews.com.
“It can be used as part of HACCP systems to test raw ingredients or finished goods. It is an alternative for the food industry to do testing at a place where the sample is taken and you don’t need to send it to a lab unless there is a contractual or legal reason.
“Speedy Breedy is much faster than sending samples to a lab. For example, if you test chicken burgers from McDonalds by the ton, the cost of holding the inventory could be high. If you do the testing there you can reduce the time of hold inventory from a week to a day.”
It features two temperature-controlled testing chambers and culture vessels are supplied sterile (gamma irradiated) in protective packaging.
The instrument maintains culture conditions within disposable culture vessels removing the need for an autoclave courtesy of its pasteurization mode.
It is used to determine sterility or contamination in applications that include manufacture of ice cream, meat products, beer, milk and juice.
Bactest, inventor and manufacturer of the machine, offers media products for Staphyloccocus, Salmonella, Listeria, yeasts, E. coli, coliforms, Pseudomonas and Enterococci.
The firm said current problems include error rates with sample degradation, labs becoming contaminated and people mislabelling samples.
The main benefit of the system, launched last year and costs £3,500, is speed, said Brooking.
“If you are looking at a contamination when making ice cream, for example, you make the batch and then clean out the machine,” she said.
“It is cleaned and you take a swab and put the tip of the swab inside the culture vessel plus sterile water. If the microorganisms are there they will grow and you will get test results before the next batch of ice cream is made and potentially wasted.”
Brooking said customers were looking for simplicity with the device able to tell the user what the contamination is and how much there is without having to be a microbiologist.
She said it had a big market relating to water with a distributor in France but also in beer, milk, meat and juice.
“We will be launching more media and later this year we hope to announce a portable lab which will be able to start in one place and then you can move Speedy Breedy around.
“You test at the source and carry it in the back of a van, for example, plugged into a cigarette lighter and get back to your office and plug it into the mains and the battery allows you to power the portable mini-lab.”
It can be used independently or connected to a PC for data collection and analysis and it has a removable SD card for field research.