Detecting water contamination

Even with advances in farming, distribution, processing and storage practices, microbe related product recalls continue to occur, due to contamination throughout the food chain.

Water is a critical resource and a potential source of contamination within the food chain, as it is essential for production, processing and preparation of food: from agricultural irrigation, hydration of livestock and washing of produce, through to processing and preparation of final products. Traditionally, measurement of bacterial contamination from this wide range of water procedures has required specific and lengthy pre-treatment steps to ensure adequate testing.

TECTA™ is an automated microbiological platform to rapidly and reliably detect E. coli, Total Coliforms, Faecal Coliforms and Enterococci contamination in water samples. TECTA technology is based on a semi-automated culture method which employs enzyme mediated fluorescence combined with a patented Polymer Partition technology that extracts hydrophobic fluorescent product from water. This technology enables sensitive, species specific bacterial detection and quantitative enumeration, with real time sample analysis read by the built in spectrometer and analysis software.

This exciting technology is not affected by sample turbidity allowing for a wide range of applications, whilst the large dynamic range (<1 to >108 CFU in 100 mL) without sample dilution significantly reduces the need for pre-treatment of samples.

The culture conditions and detection enzyme selection are based on reference methods ensuring compliance with industry standards. TECTA is an AOAC accredited testing platform for rapid testing of water and beverages.

One automated microbial system to cover four critical parts in food and beverage manufacturing

TECTA’s unique detection technologies makes it a flexible platform for use across food production and manufacturing.


Monitoring and management of microbial contamination in the paddock can prevent costly additional processing of raw material. Water is a vital element in farming — it is essential for livestock and crops alike, and a significant contributor to raw material contamination. The TECTA system’s small footprint and its ease of use makes it ideal for deployment in mobile water testing labs. Reductions in contamination of raw material has positive effects on final product quality, manufacturing and production costs, whilst providing a safer working environment and animal welfare.

Source water

The TECTA system provides valuable early raw water intelligence for food manufacturers, enabling more efficient management decision for treatment from a range of water sources including tap water, well water, lake water, and bottled water independent of mineral content. Due to its tolerance to turbidity it can be performed at early stages of the water treatment process to accelerate the processing and release of production water.

Finished product testing

Even with advances in farming, distribution, processing and storage practices, product recalls resulting from bacterial contamination continue to affect the Australian food market. TECTA is AOAC accredited for tap water, well water, lake water, vegetable wash water, bottled water and diet iced tea. TECTA technology has also been evaluated for testing of other liquid samples including milk.

Waste water monitoring

Processing of waste water requires effective management of microbial load before efflux. The TECTA system can provide rapid 24/7 online reporting to maximise management in waste water treatment with applications including disinfection cost control, assessment of bacteria load of sludge/bio-solids, prior to disposal to minimise delays in waste water release. This testing can be initiated with no sample pre-processing and performed onsite to provide rapid insight into the efficacy of treatment process and reduce the chance of a costly early release event.

Thermo Fisher Scientific is the Australian and New Zealand distributor for TECTA PDS products.

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