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Cargill meat testing thinks outside the box

Last updated on 07-Mar-2014 at 06:29 GMT2014-03-07T06:29:28Z

Cargill Meat Solutions staff responded favorably to MediaBox liquid culture media when they used it to test a large number of samples. Photo: Megan McMunn.
Cargill Meat Solutions staff responded favorably to MediaBox liquid culture media when they used it to test a large number of samples. Photo: Megan McMunn.

When Cargill Media Solutions needed to test a significant number of samples, they opted for ready-to-use liquid culture media to save time and effort.

Brooke Pennybacker, laboratory supervisor, Cargill Meat Solutions, told FoodProductionDaily the company recently launched a wide-scale testing initiative across its plants in Arkansas, Missouri, Texas, and Virginia. From September to December 2013, they tested 250,000 samples from its processing plants.

Our staff was faced with a huge step up in the amount of test media they needed,” she said. “They were looking at testing 731,000 mL more than they would normally test in that period.”

To get their hands on that much testing media, Pennybacker said, gave Cargill Meat Solutions two choices: hire temporary staff to work round the clock preparing the media, or come up with a ready-to-use solution.

Ready media

They turned to MediaBox, a sterile, ready-to-use liquid culture media. Manufactured by Microbiology International, the product is geared toward labs that routinely run significant quantities of food samples.

MediaBox is housed in recyclable cube-shaped packaging that contain no glass. The contents of each box have a shelf life of up to six months.

Welcome reception

Pennybacker reported Cargill Meat Solutions staff responded enthusiastically to MediaBox.

We like it because it’s cost-effective to other prepared media, it's easily attached to a gravimetric dilutor, there’s no mixing or filtering required, and the container shape makes it easy to store."

According to Pennybacker, the introduction MediaBox went over so well with Cargill Meat Solutions laboratory staff, one employee took a marker and drew a heart on the carton.


Stuart Clark, senior technical director of Microbiology International, said the bulk of attention in the food analysis arena is paid to the high-technology machines used to process samples. Consumables like testing media are the unsung heroes of the laboratory.

You always hear about all the fantastic detection methods that are on the market,” he said. “We focus on media solutions; our role is looking to streamline processes which help speed detection, cut down labor, and allow for better processing of samples.”

Pennybacker and Clark spoke at the Food Labs section of Pittcon 2014, an annual conference and exhibition dedicated to analytical technology for food and beverage testing, materials analysis, and more. The event occurred this week in Chicago.

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