More haste, less waste: speeding up food testing

Wednesday, 13 September, 2023

More haste, less waste: speeding up food testing

A promising technology has been developed to speed up the process of testing bacterial viability in food products.

Researchers at Osaka Metropolitan University have developed a simple measurement technique that rapidly measures the number of viable bacteria in food products and reduces the inspection time from 2 days to about 1 hour.

Led by Professor Hiroshi Shiigi at the Graduate School of Engineering, Osaka Metropolitan University, the study focused on the electrochemical properties of tetrazolium salts (MTT), a water-soluble molecule, to develop a simple method for evaluating viable bacterial counts, which are indicators of hygiene control at food and pharmaceutical manufacturing sites.

One of the most important assessment indicators for ensuring that food is free from contamination is the number of viable bacteria. However, conventional measurement methods take up to two days to yield results, and these results are usually only available after the food has been shipped from the factory. Therefore, speeding up the testing method of identifying bacterial contamination before shipment is an imperative measure to prevent possible food poisoning.

“With this method, we can quickly measure the number of viable bacteria, allowing us to confirm the safety of food products before they leave the factory and to prevent food poisoning,” Shiigi said. “This method does not require complicated operations or expensive equipment. Therefore, we will continue to optimise the measurement conditions and expect to see the development of a portable sensor in line with the development of research aimed at practical applications.”

The results of the research have been published in Analytical Chemistry.

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