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Performance Comparison of the BioSys Optical Assay and the Violet Red Bile Agar Method for Detecting Coliforms in Food Products

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Coliform counts in a variety of foods, including dairy products (raw milk, pasteurized milk, yogurt, butter, and ice cream), meats (pork sausage, ground beef, and raw chicken), raw eggs, and chocolate, were performed by the rapid automated BioSys optical assay and the conventional method with violet red bile agar (VRBA). The standard deviation (SD) among five replicate counts for the optical assay was similar to or better than that obtained with VRBA plates for all foods tested. The average SD for all foods tested was 0.21 for the optical assay and 0.30 for the VRBA plates. At very low concentrations of coliforms (1 to 10 CFU/ml for liquid products and 10 to 100 CFU/g for solid samples), the average SDs were 0.26 and 0.47, respectively. The optical assay was less susceptible to interference by noncoliform organisms. In naturally contaminated samples, bacteria such as Serratia liquefaciens, Pantoea spp., Vibrio fluvialis, Aeromonas hydrophilia, and Pseudomonas spp. formed typical colonies in VRBA, resulting in false-positive results or a need to verify colonies in brilliant green lactose broth. The optical assay appeared to be more selective than the VRBA conventional method, detecting fewer noncoliforms. There was close agreement in test results between the two methods, as indicated by correlation coefficients of 0.92 to 0.99 obtained for the regression analysis of the two methods. In most cases both methods distinguished accurately between positive samples containing coliforms and negative controls. All products tested using the automated BioSys Optical Assay for coliforms yielded results more quickly (typically 10 to 12 h) than did those tested with the conventional VRBA method (24 to 72 h with confirmation).

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: BioSys, Inc., 3810 Varsity Drive, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48108, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2004

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