Neogen® Petrifilm® Plates: Forty Years at the Forefront of Food Safety

Neogen Australasia Pty Limited
Wednesday, 01 May, 2024

Neogen® Petrifilm® Plates: Forty Years at the Forefront of Food Safety

When a product has been an industry standard for decades, it can sometimes be difficult to fully appreciate just how groundbreaking it was at the time of its introduction.

This year, Neogen Petrifilm Plates celebrates forty years of innovation as it continues to evolve at the forefront of food safety.

In 1984, the world of microbiology was introduced to a brand new, more efficient, and accurate way to detect bacteria in foods that fundamentally changed the way it had been done for close to a century.

Until then, the primary way for microbiologists to accurately grow cell cultures in the lab was with the use of Petri dishes — shallow cylindrical glass-lidded dishes that contain agar — a thin layer of nutrient gel upon which bacteria can be cultured.

Those familiar would be aware the old method takes hours of preparation and is a cumbersome and tedious process.

One person in that situation, Dr. Bob Nelson, was certain there had to be a better way.

Dr. Nelson spent time visiting other labs and discovered pain points of the traditional method were common across the industry, including excessive demands on technicians’ time, agar dishes taking up too much lab space, and short shelf-lives leading to dishes expiring before use.

His big idea was to create a ready-to-use, film-based agar test with a longer shelf life to eliminate the time-consuming and tedious task of pouring plates.

Today we call them Neogen Petrifilm Plates and they have been nothing short of revolutionary.

Not only did Dr. Nelson’s invention address the issues relating to use in the lab, additional benefits, such as significant productivity gains and reducing environmental impact were also soon realised.

By switching to Petrifilm, food safety technicians around the world have collectively helped to save more than 2.8 billion litres of water over the past forty years. They’ve also conserved enough energy to power 2.3 trillion 60-watt light bulbs and have reduced solid waste by 4.4 billion kilograms.

When compared to agar, switching to Petrifilm has also been shown to enhance productivity by 48% on average. Little wonder it remains the leading dry film quality indicator test on the market.

“Petrifilm longevity in laboratories across the world is associated with its simplicity,” explains Neogen’s Australian Technical Product Specialist, Diana Pregonero. “No media purchase, preparation or storage is required, but also training for new staff is minimised. This is an important point in a country like Australia where high rotation of personnel impacts productivity.”

The fact the original idea has stood the test of time somewhat conceals the ongoing innovation that continues to this day.

“Neogen is constantly in the process of developing innovative products to enhance our portfolio and cater to our customers’ evolving food safety testing needs,” says Pregonero. “As scientists with industry care and innovation as core values, we are always looking for more effective and efficient solutions.”

Since its inception, the Petrifilm Plate portfolio has steadily grown, with new additions emerging every few years. Currently, the lineup boasts an impressive selection of sixteen distinct Petrifilm Plates, ten of which deliver results in 24 hours or less.

In 2004, the Petrifilm Plate Reader was added to the portfolio, a device that eliminates the need for manual colony counting and data entry. And in 2021, the Petrifilm Plate Reader Advanced was introduced, giving food safety professionals new options to rapidly and accurately image, count, and document microbiological colonies on Petrifilm Plates indicator tests.

“This automated solution closes gaps in laboratory results generation by eliminating technician errors, enhanced traceability through stored information linked to specific plate images, and reducing the time required to count plates,” says Pregonero.

Today, with more than 2.85 billion Petrifilm Plates sold and counting, Neogen Petrifilm Plates are one of the world’s leading food indicator testing technologies. Internationally recognised and used in more than 60 countries, with over 105 global validations, recognitions, and certifications, they are a trusted solution for food processors, universities, industry regulators, and third-party contract labs around the world.

And we’re not done yet.

Dr. Sailaja Chandrapati, a senior scientist on the team with responsibility for further developing innovative solutions, says Neogen is always working to stay ahead of the curve by listening to our customers and continually investing in new products and technologies.

“Our mission in the realm of microbiology remains clear,” says Dr. Chandrapati. “To make the entire process, from sampling to receiving results, as seamless and painless for our customers as possible.”

“We remain dedicated to pushing the limits of science for the next forty years so we can continue to make our customers’ lives easier.”

You can Do More with Neogen Petrifilm

Visit to get in touch with an expert and discover the full range of food safety solutions made for you.

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