Neogen acquires BioLumix

neogen_earnings_blog Neogen Corporation (NASDAQ: NEOG) announced today that, effective Sept. 30, it has acquired all the outstanding stock of BioLumix, Inc., an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based manufacturer and marketer of automated systems for the detection of microbial contaminants.

The BioLumix business will be consolidated with Neogen’s closely related Soleris® technology, which is widely used for the detection of spoilage organisms in several food industries, as well as the nutraceutical market. The Soleris system was the first in the industry used for the detection of microbial contamination based upon an innovative application of well-accepted classical microbiology.

“Combining of the Soleris and BioLumix technologies, market bases, and outstanding technical staffs will greatly enhance both businesses and offer significant labor saving rapid solutions for the food, pharmaceutical, and personal care businesses,” said James Herbert, Neogen’s chief executive officer and chairman. “The combination also settles litigation of seven years between the two companies, and benefits existing customers of both companies moving forward.”

The BioLumix test platform includes an instrument where test vials are incubated and automatically read for results, and an automatic system to alert users to sample results. The basic unit accommodates 32 different test vials at a time and can be combined in modules to accommodate up to 1,000 different samples simultaneously.

Test vials are the consumable portion of the platform and contain growth media and indicators for a number of different microorganisms. A sample is simply added to the vial, and the vial inserted into the instrument. BioLumix currently has 19 different microorganism tests. Specialized software shows test results as soon as detections occur, and avoids the need for involvement from a hands-on operator. The software also creates and maintains all the necessary audit trails to comply with various government regulations.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

For the full press release, click here.

Microbiology in Social Media

Web-related information about microbiology is plentiful. There are a variety of social media resources available to a microbiologist, from scientific information, to   opportunities to benchmark practices, obtain training opportunities, and to keep current with the latest news and developments in virtually any area of interest .All it takes is a little research and an open mind.

Available Information Sources

microbiology newsNews and Company Sites

In recent years, there have been more and more websites dedicated to microbiology on the Internet. There are also sites dedicated to providing news, as well as, websites dedicated to providing microbiology supplies.

A few examples of major sites containing information and news related specifically to microbiology are:

American Society for Microbiology

ScienceDaily – Microbiology News

The Scientist

The Independent

microbiology newsBioLumix News and Information:

The BioLumix website is updated frequently with information about the technology, new development and current events.  Click on the icon to connect to BioLumix website


Blogs can be viewed as online journals that are created by individuals, groups, or companies.  Blogs has exploded in recent years due to the ease of blogging and the multitude of hosting services available.   The growth of the blogosphere has become so pervasive that some question the viability of print magazines.

Many blogs, of interest to a microbiologist, are published frequently and may well serve to replace printed publications in terms of timely information. Below are a few examples:

Small Things Considered

Microbiology Network Blog

Pharmaceutical Microbiology

The RMM Blog


microbiology blogBioLumix Blog:

BioLumix posts bi-weekly blogs on a variety of topics in rapid microbiology, about regulations, and about the BioLumix technology. To stay current on our new developments click on the icon to connect to BioLumix blog.

microbiology emailE Mail discussion Groups

Email discussion groups are created to encourage discussion around a unifying topic.  Users subscribe to the group. The basic mechanism is to have a central Email address to which all mails are sent.  If a subscriber has a question or comment it is sent by Email to that address.  The email is then resent to all of the participants.  If one (or more) participant wishes to comment on the Email, that reply is then sent to the central address for redistribution and the cycle repeats.

The Email discussion group is the oldest form of social media participation. There are two Email discussion groups of use to the microbiologist – the PMFList and the PSDGList.   Both focus on Pharmaceutical production and validation.

Social Channels

microbiology linkedinLinkedIn:

LinkedIn is a business-oriented social network and it provides a variety of opportunities to connect with other microbiologists and join discussions. LinkedIn also supports the formation of interest groups, and many people use the groups on LinkedIn as a kind of think tank or open brainstorming session.  Others use it to disseminate information.   It is an essential business resource of information, LinkedIn can help you stay up-to-date with industry trends and share information with others who do similar work to you.  Many companies have a company page on LinkedIn.

Examples of relevant discussion groups:

Rapid Microbiology Testing and Methods

Rapid Microbiology

Microbiology Professionals

Food Microbiology- HACCP

Pharmaceutical Microbiology

BioLumix on LinkedIn:

BioLumix at LinkedinBioLumix has a company page on LinkedIn that contains relevant information about the products as well as corporate news. To view our LinkedIn page click on the icon. BioLumix Linked In page:


BioLumix linkedin group

BioLumix also sponsors the discussion group Rapid Microbiology Testing and Methods.  To join the group and read the content of this informative group click on the icon. Rapid Microbiology Testing and Methods

BioLumix on facebook

BioLumix at facebookFacebook defines social media today and is more of a pure social media, than it is used for personal purposes. However, in recent years it started serving also in the promotion of companies and services.  Many companies have Company Pages that can promote their service or products with information and special offers.

BioLumix on Facebook: To view the BioLumix Facebook page click on the icon.

BioLumix at TwitterTwitter:

Twitter is a messaging service that allows users to post short (140 character) “Tweets” to their followers.  Its main use is not in science, but it can offer a good way to rapidly disseminate information.   Many Companies and organizations are using this service to get information out quickly and to direct people to web-based information sources. The very brevity of the tweet format can encourage concise expression of ideas and concepts.

A few examples:





BioLumix at TwitterBioLumix on Twitter:

To view the BioLumix Twitter page click on the icon.

Google +

Google Plus was established in the beginning of 2013 and is currently the second largest social network in the world.  It was launched by Google, in order to evolve the way we relate to one another, and how we communicate with the world. At the moment its presence in the microbiology world is limited, but with the Google power behind it is expected to be a major source of information in the near future. Some companies have Google+ pages.

BioLumix at Google+BioLumix on Google+:

To view the BioLumix Google+ page click on the icon.

BioLumix at YouTubeYouTube:

YouTube is a video sharing service. Video provides an excellent opportunity to explain and teach scientific concepts.  In the current impatient, busy world, many people would prefer to watch a video instead of trying to digest massive pieces of written information. Since more consumers are spending time online instead of watching TV, the popularity of watching videos online is growing exponentially.

A few examples are:

Microbiology video library

Microbeworld Video

BioLumix at YouTubeBioLumix on YouTube:

BioLumix has posted many videos on-line explaining the technology and dealing with a variety of topics of interest to microbiologist. To view the BioLumix YouTube videos click on the icon.

Usage Survey

A year ago Scott Sutton and the Microbiology Network conducted a survey of the use of social media by microbiologists in a few regulated industries.  There has been a significant increase in the use of social media by scientists and microbiologists as these sources provide an opportunities to keep current with the latest in news and developments in virtually any area of interest to the microbiologist.

Social Media Survey ResultsThis survey was conducted online, with a group that is part of an internet email group. It must therefore be assumed that the respondents are more technologically sophisticated than is the norm, and had familiarity with social media on its side.

The survey looked at two main questions – What social media are being used and what is it used for?

As shown in the figure, LinkedIn was the most popular social media used by microbiologists, followed by Facebook.  The main reason for using the social media was for personal interest, followed by Benchmarking.  This survey also shows that once a technology matures (for example the PMFList and the PSDGList Email discussion groups) participation becomes enthusiastic.


The internet and social media offer a wealth of information and capabilities to the microbiologist; it seems as if more microbiologists can take advantage of the opportunities presented.  BioLumix participates in many of the forms of social media and offers a wealth of information to microbiologists

The Complete BioLumix Experience! Simplified, Rapid, Automated BioLumix System: Microbiology Testing Simplified

Come to Booth #16091 @ Supply Side West 2014 and Learn More
SupplySide West ExpoThe implementation of cGMP for all manufacturers (large and small) of dietary supplements and Nutraceutical products means that all manufacturers must test their products for microbiology quality assurance and generate a Certificate of Analysis for each batch. Products must be tested in accordance with the methods described in USP <2021> and <2022>.  This includes testing for Total Aerobic Microbial Count, Total Combined Yeast and Mold, Bile-Tolerant-Gram-Negative bacteria, and objectionable organisms (absent in 10 grams of organisms such as Salmonella, E. coli, and sometimes S. aureus). To do these tests companies either send product samples to contract laboratories for microbiological testing or test them internally.

Internal testing of products for microbiology gives the manufacturer much more control over the operation, but some manufacturers are hesitant to bring the microbiology testing in-house for fear of the complexity of testing or the need for trained microbiologist(s).  Also daunting is the need for a full validation package which is required for any method that deviates from the USP methodology. Here’s the good news – BioLumix offers a solution that gives faster time to results, quicker product release, cost effective operation, and strengthens key profit drivers.   This is all achieved on a single platform that is easy to use, validated to USP requirements, and doesn’t require additional skilled personnel.

At BioLumix, we don’t just offer you a simplified, rapid, automated microbiology system… we provide the Complete BioLumix Experience!

What is the Complete BioLumix Experience?  It’s having, from initial contact to the completion of the installation and beyond, our commitment to providing unparalleled support and total customer satisfaction.
SupplySide West Expo show floor


In 2006, Ruth & Gideon Eden established BioLumix, Inc.  Today, because of their extensive backgrounds in science and technology combined with customer-oriented sales and support staff, we have raised the simplification, automation and speed of microbiology testing to a new level.

  • Needs Assessment - Whether you contact us direct or through our website you can count on our sales team to respond quickly.  The focus is on your needs and goals.  Our BioLumix Technology Presentation provides an in depth look into how and why our system will work for you.  In addition, we can quickly and easily show you the value and the ROI the system will bring to your company.


  • Expertise – Knowing how the BioLumix system will work with your samples gives you peace of mind.  That’s why we test samples – YOUR samples – for you at our laboratory in Ann Arbor, MI.  We do this for you at no cost and at no obligation!  Once completed, expect a comprehensive report from one of our expert microbiologists. That same microbiologist spends two and a half days on-site for training and installation of the system.


  • Validation – If you are concerned about validation, here is more good news.  We provide complete SOPs along with a customized Validation book which includes Installation Qualification (IQ), Operations Qualification (OQ) and Performance Qualification (PQ).


  • Simplicity and Ease-of-Use-  The easy to master BioLumix system offers a new level of productivity.  Sample preparation takes less than 2 minutes; just add the sample to the diluent and mix.  Pipette the appropriate amount into the vial and place it into the instrument and record the sample and assay information into the computer.  The rest is totally automated.  The Certificates of Analysis will automatically be generated in as little as 24-48 hours!


  • Support – Our jobs center on satisfying our customers and providing unparalleled support.  At BioLumix you receive 24/7 support plus a microbiologist dedicated to service you and answer your questions.  What happens if you encounter a problem? Troubleshooting can be done via the internet and in most cases problems are resolved.   If needed we provide a loaner instrument while your instrument is being fixed to minimize downtime.  Our website provides instant access to information and resources about our technology, instruments, assays, and more.  It’s also mobile-enabled to format to your handheld devices.  Links to social media, white papers, blogs, videos, and other informative contact information puts everything you need at your fingertips.


  • Continuous Product Improvement – At BioLumix we have an ongoing commitment to evolving and adding to our platform.   One way this is achieved is through our partnership with our customers.  Customer feedback, along with a desire to increase the breadth and depth of our offerings, helps us to make improvements to our media and our assays.  We have recently introduced two new assays – Listeria and Bacillus cereus.


With a simplified method such as the BioLumix System we can provide a simple cost effective method to test products for microbiology. Come visit our booth (# 16091) and take the first step into your own personal BioLumix Experience.  This year the show is being held at the beautiful Mandalay Bay Convention Resort, in Las Vegas, October 8th and 9th.




Manufacturers of Nutraceutical, Pharmaceuticals, Cosmetics, Dairy, and other products are often faced with the challenge of putting their products in the hands of consumers as quickly and efficiently as possible, while at the same time ensuring the quality and safety of their products.  Many of these companies rely on the services of third party laboratories or contract packaging companies to provide timely, accurate microbiology testing of their products and their ingredients.  As a result, organizations who provide these types of services may wish to update their labs with Rapid Microbiology Method (RMM) equipment.  By adding the BioLumix RMM to their laboratories, lab service providers can significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to provide their customers the quality results they need to move forward with their products.

Internalizing microbiology testing: offering speed and automation

WePackItAll®(WPIA) is a leading contract packaging and service company, combining their customers’ products with their packaging technology and resources to provide customized and affordable solutions.
WPIA are experts in all types of packaging, including: Packets, Gummies, Multi-Packs, Tubes, Stick-Packs, Blisters, Powders, Liquids, Tablets, High-Speed Bottling and more.

Lab Quality Assurance“WPIA is honored to be celebrating our 40th year in business, serving the dietary supplement, nutrition, food and health/beauty industries, and we are so thankful for the many people and business partners that have contributed to our success over the years.  I have the great pleasure of working with an amazing group of professionals every day and without a doubt, they are the biggest reason WPIA has been so successful over the years.” says Dave Hoover, COO.

In the beginning of 2013 WPIA launched its in?house laboratory, offering microbiological testing services to meet testing requirements and serve the needs of their partners. WPIA chose the validated BioLumix system for their microbiological testing.

We recently interviewed Suren Zatikyan, Quality Assurance Lab Analyst, and Kristopher Flores, Quality Manager.

BIOLUMIX: Why did you decide to add the BioLumix system to your lab?

The reason we decided to get this system is that it helps us provide our customers with the best service.  Because we are a contract packaging company, we need a finished product testing schedule and quick microbiology results that will prove that we have a clean operating environment in our facility and ensure product safety when the product reaches the consumer.  That was our primary goal when looking at microbiology instruments.

BIOLUMIX: What were some of the things that impressed you the most about the BioLumix system?

BioLumix VialsSUREN: When we found out about BioLumix, we discovered it gave us the opportunity to generate results in a very short period of time.  In addition, validation studies that were performed by BioLumix, and later on by us, proved that the system itself is compatible with all the standard methods used by USP and other standard methods developed for microbiology labs.  We use the BioLumix system to perform some of our environmental testing and monitoring programs, which is very helpful to us.

BIOLUMIX: What has been your experience while working with BioLumix?

SUREN: We were very pleased with the explanation given to us on how the system works, both in terms of capabilities and which tests can be performed.  The tests available were the most important assays that we needed such as Salmonella, E. coli, Staph, Yeast & Mold, and Total Aerobic Count.  These are tests used on a daily basis.  Jason Kircos, a BioLumix microbiologist, was very helpful during the initial 2 1/2 days of training and later on – whenever we needed any information regarding specification values and the use of the software.  We had an issue with the computer hard drive, and the technical team was very helpful.  Not only did they provide good technical support, but they also sent us brand new replacement computer.

BIOLUMIX: What else would you like to add?

SUREN:  We occasionally have some false positive results, due to the sample we are working with, such as samples with high counts because of their botanical nature.  Some organisms can be closely related to what we test for.  We have our own protocols in place when we see positives and have confirmation tests.  We can also use third party labs for identification, as needed.  There haven’t been any real issues with the system that we were not able to resolve quickly.  There’s never been any major issue which caused us to stop processing and troubleshoot because the system was unreliable.

BIOLUMIX: Were there any marketing strategies for promoting your services with the BioLumix system?

Absolutely.  Because BioLumix is more or less an all-in-one package, and given the timeframe it takes to package a product, we really do not have to increase lead times for micro testing.  That is definitely a selling point.  We placed some information about BioLumix on our website, and also created brochures to promote rapid microbiology in conjunction with some of the other quality systems at WPIA.  This is a value-add for our customers.

BIOLUMIX: Did you see any measurable increase in your overall business?

KRISTOPHER: While it is difficult to quantify the impact in that manner, it certainly plays a part in our overall offering to our customers and with our compliance requirements.  I deal with all of the customer audits and having finished-product testing capabilities as it relates to microbiology is a selling point.  To measure it would be a little tougher to do.

SUREN: Whenever you can add into the conversation that we can perform these tests, it’s a selling point.

KRISTOPHER: Our larger customers require it as part of their day-to-day release process.  If the BioLumix system wasn’t in place, it would be tougher to support their needs.  In some instances, based on our testing and our customers’ testing, we’ve been able to validate our processes in-house and eliminate third party validation.  That makes an impact on the bigger picture for our customers.

SUREN:  Sometimes our customers ask if specific counts (CFU) can be generated whenever specifications are given.  However, once we explain the method used most of them are satisfied that BioLumix is not a number-specific CFU “count.”  Validation BookWe create the specification based on specific values and if the test result is below spec then it passes.  If it’s above, then it fails.

BIOLUMIX: Audits – how has the BioLumix system held up under scrutiny during any audits you may have had?

KRISTOPHER: It has certainly been under scrutiny, but the validation package that was prepared at the start definitely goes a long way and satisfies any curiosity when it relates to our customers.  We have also had the local California Food & Drug branch here a few times and they checked the system,finding no inconsistencies.

SUREN: The Validation Book is very thoroughly prepared.  IQ, OQ, PQ validations, the prior testing by BioLumix, and our own validation shows equivalence with the USP methodology.  Everything was very well done and documented.

KRISTOPHER: When I get larger more experienced customers that come to WPIA with very developed systems and very experienced personnel, they take a look and they are thoroughly impressed.  In some instances there are some questions, but they’re resolved on the spot.

BIOLUMIX: Would you say your customers are satisfied?

KRISTOPHER: Absolutely.  Continuously, our customers tend to move more toward this type of testing compared to what they have been accustomed to in the past.  The reductionin time to get results with this system makes the difference.

SUREN: In general, I would say we are quite satisfied with the BioLumix system.  The duration of the tests are very short compared to other methods.  We are capable of delivering products that are safe and we have peace of mind when we perform our tests.  Overall, we have a very successful operation and a cost-efficient system when compared to other options.


Kristopher Flores has been the Quality Manager at WePackItAll since 2012.  Prior to that, he was with various other contract manufacturing facilities in aerospace and nutraceutical.  Kristopher has extensive knowledge in Quality Assurance, Regulatory Affairs, and Project Management.

Suren Zatikyan has been a Quality Assurance Analyst at WePackItAll since 2012. Graduated from Cal. State University of Northridge (CSUN) with B.A. in Biology. At CSUN was part of undergraduate cancer research program. Prior to WePackItAll, worked in Michelson Laboratories. 

Water testing- Heterotrophic bacteria, coliforms and E. coli- Why and how to test

Water Quality

Water QualityWater is used in a variety of different industries as well as products within various industries, including Nutraceutical and Dietary Supplement, Pharmaceutical, cosmetics, toiletry industries.  Water can be used as a product ingredient, for example, to create the capsules that contain the supplement.  In the manufacture of the capsules many companies use their own water to create and encapsulate their products.   Water is also used for the cleaning of certain equipment and contact surfaces.

According to USP 1231, although there are no absolute microbial standards for water (other than water intended to be sterile), the CGMP regulations require the establishment of appropriate specifications. The specification must take into account the intended use of the water; i.e., water used to formulate a product should contain no organisms capable of growing in the product. Action or alert limits should be established based upon validation data and must be set low enough to signal significant changes from normal operating conditions.

Control of the microbiological quality of water is important for many of its uses. All packaged forms of water are required to be sterile because some of their intended uses require this for health and safety reasons. The needed microbial specification for a given bulk water depends upon its use. Some applications may require even more careful microbial control to avoid the proliferation of microorganisms ubiquitous to water during the purification, storage, and distribution.

To ensure adherence to certain minimal microbiological quality standards, water used in the production of drug substances or as source or feed water for the preparation of the various types of purified waters must meet the requirements of the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations (NPDWR) (40 CFR 141) issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the drinking water regulations of the European Union or Japan, or the WHO drinking water guidelines. Microbiological requirements of drinking water ensure the absence of coliforms, which, if determined to be of fecal origin, may indicate the potential presence of other potentially pathogenic microorganisms and viruses of fecal origin. Meeting these microbiological requirements does not rule out the presence of other microorganisms, which could be considered undesirable if found in a drug substance or formulated product.

USP<1115> deals with bioburden of non-sterile drug substances and products, and the chapter states that the biggest manufacturing risk is water as an ingredient.  Process water is the single most important risk factor contributing to the contamination of nonsterile products.  The purified waters that are used in manufacturing are deionized and do not contain chlorine that helps control microbial growth.  Purified water is capable of supporting growth of gram negative rod shaped bacteria and many different molds.

Water TestingThe FDA also covers a wide range of different types of water that can be used for pharmaceutical uses and describes different sources for water contamination.  The FDA even states that microbial contamination of oral liquids and topical drug products are a significant problem that is usually caused by contaminated water.  Due to the potential health risks involved with the use of contaminated water, particular attention should be paid to the deionized (DI) water systems, especially at smaller manufacturers.

Chlorinated water may be appropriate for early stage cleaning and sanitization activities, but the uses are risky and should only be used on a case by case basis.  Microbial enumeration is an integral component of a water monitoring system to assess the microbial quality of the water.  Some systems use both high-nutrient (PCA) and low-nutrient (R2A) media to allow the isolation of both heterotrophic organisms and slower growing oligotrophic bacteria.

Water testing is also important when dealing with well water, tap water and even bottled water.  The EPA uses coliform as an indicator of possible fecal contamination.  Coliforms naturally found in the environment, and are usually non-pathogenic, but their presence may indicate fecal coliforms.

The Rapid Automated BioLumix System

BioLumix SystemBioLumix automated; all-in-one microbial testing system is an ideal system for in plant water testing.  The system is fast, simple and cost-effective.  A novel optical system sensing color and fluorescence in ready-to-use vials provides faster results, labor savings, automation, and connectivity. The BioLumix system is capable of testing water for heterotrophic bacteria, total aerobic bacteria, E. coli, coliforms, fecal coliforms and yeast and molds. Using the BioLumix system will quickly determine the microbial quality of the water.

Heterotrophic Vial: This vial can detect organisms requiring low-nutrient media (similar to (R2A) to allow the isolation of both heterotrophic organisms and slower growing oligotrophic bacteria. In a study, over 50 samples of multiple different water types were tested by the BioLumix method and the plate count method side-by-side.  The BioLumix vials were directly inoculated with 0.1 mL of the water sample, or a 1.0 mL of a 1:100 dilution, and a few samples were inoculated with heterotrophic bacteria.  The samples were monitored in the BioLumix instrument for 35 hours.  The results showed that the BioLumix system was roughly 13 hours faster than the plate count method using Stand Methods Agar.  These particular samples were tested at specified levels <10 cfu/ml and <100cfu/ml, but the BioLumix method can detect organisms at levels of <1 cfu/ml of water.

Bottled water for human consumption also needs to be tested for coliforms, which are indicators of possible contamination. The FDA requires either MPN or membrane filtration to check 100 ml of water for any contamination. The MPN method which requires at least nine tubes to perform the test and up to 96 hours of testing; while BioLumix can do the same analysis using just one vial in less than quarter of the time.  The filter method can also be applied using the BioLumix system by filtering the 100ml onto a membrane filter and placing the filter directly into the vial.

What are the advantages of the BioLumix system?

The system serves, as a platform to perform all required assays- using the BioLumix system will allow the users to test for coliforms, heterotrophic bacteria, E. coli and Yeast/Mold. The system can be used for water testing as well as for testing raw materials, in process and finished products.

Saving time- The BioLumix system can save time when testing water for Heterotrophic bacteria instead of taking three days using traditional plates, the BioLumix system will give the same results in 35 hours.

Economical cost of assays: Instead of running an MPN assay, which will require up to 5 days of testing as well as 9 tubes of LTB and up to 9 tubes of EC Media to wait for confirmation of a positive fecal coliform, the BioLumix system requires less than 24 hours and a single vial.

References: -Water for Pharmaceutical Use  Enumeration of Escherichia coli and the Coliform Bacteria

USP <1115> Bioburden Control of Nonsterile Drug Substances and Products

USP <1231> Water Treatment Systems For Industrial & Commercial Use.


Putting together an environmental monitoring plan requires a thoughtful, scientific approach establishing and considering the risks of contamination from each location along the manufacturing process.
environment monitor

Environmental monitoring (EM) is a basic requirement across many regulated industries such as food, cosmetics, Nutraceutical, dietary supplements, and pharmaceuticals. It measures the degree of maintaining environmental control and, therefore, the safety of the manufactured products. Maintaining environmental control can prevent product contamination.

The FDA evaluates the environment of manufacturing facilities against the regulatory code, and the potential of the product allowing for growth of organisms. They expect manufacturers to be in control of the environmental conditions in their facility. There is evidence that a relationship exists between the level of environmental control and the final quality of the product. In product safety, the EM program serves a critical role that the environment is under appropriate control.

In manufacturing facilities, there is a need to demonstrate that production equipment is sufficiently clean thereby the next production lots are not contaminated from the material of the previous lot.

An effective sampling plan needs to be established, the purpose of a microbial EM program is to:
• Provide crucial information on the quality of the work process environment during manufacturing
• Prevent future microbial contamination by detecting and reacting to adverse trends
• Prevent the release of a potentially contaminated batch if the appropriate standards are not met
• Prevent the risk of contamination of the product
• Ensure there are environmental controls in the production areas
• Provide a profile of of the microbial cleanliness of the manufacturing environment.


The site’s selection for data collection should show the effectiveness of cleaning. Such as:
• Site where the product is exposed to people and equipment
• Critical sites that can change product integrity if compromised
• Areas and processes steps where microbial contamination must not happen, such as the final filling of the product into its containers.

In establishing an EM plan, the number and location for sampling sites should be established. When choosing the sampling sites, there needs to be a good representation of risk-based sites where the environment can affect the product quality. Examples of such location include areas that are difficult to clean, or areas close to critical operations.

For sterile products, the manufacturer needs to keep the bioburden of the pre-sterilization as low as possible. There is a need to monitor the air, water, personnel, and surfaces as they all can contribute to the bioburden.
For non-sterile, low bioburden products, there are two main reasons for monitoring the environment:
1. To keep product bioburden under control
2. To know if the environmental isolates could contain objectionable organisms.

Other important questions to consider include:
? What is the antimicrobial effectiveness of the product?
? Will the product promote microbial growth?
? If so, which organisms can grow and get around the inhibitors build into the products?


Before initiating an EM program, it is recommended to get a baseline of total aerobic count, Yeast and mold count, perhaps coliform or Enterobacteriaceae, and in some instances lack of objectionable organisms on surfaces and the air. Establishing a baseline also allows for assessments of the types of organisms present, and helps in developing a scientifically sound disinfection program to address chemical kill and physical removal of such contaminants. The data subsequently collected during microbiological performance qualification, and routine monitoring helps to validate the efficacy of disinfection and cleaning procedures.


method for monitoring - swabsMost EM is done by plate counting of colonies on agar media, which is simple and inexpensive. However, plate count methods are slow, requiring two to seven days to complete, thereby causing a delay in the detection of contamination, which can lead to an increase in product loss, plant downtime and expensive cleanup. Delays can cause increasing inventory holding cost. The delay in obtaining results impacts reaction to contamination issues and can make investigations very difficult. The plate count methodology is also labor-intensive and requires manual data entry and documentation. Such documentation is prone to human errors and compliance issues.
Methods are available to measure total particles in the air, including Total Organic Carbon (TOC), and Adenosine Tri-phosphate (ATP).These methods are very fast to perform but do not correlate well with total bacterial count or any specific group of organisms, and do not measure viable organisms (Carricket al., 2001; Easter, 2010). Therefore, these results do not measure viable organisms in the environment or on production lines.


why BioLumixThe BioLumix system is useful for rapid and simple monitoring of the manufacturing environment. A large validation study was performed (Eden and Brideau 2012) to show that is correlates well with the plate count method. The BioLumix system was validated as an alternative to the plate count method for EM. The study involved 549 surface coupons representing five diverse types of material. These five surfaces represent those encountered in manufacturing, including metal, plastics and rubber. Some of the coupons were inoculated with bacteria, yeast, or mold. There was 100% agreement between BioLumix assay and the plate count assay for the 260 coupons that were determined to be below the specified level by the plate count method. There was an overall agreement of 97.2%between the two methods when swabs containing counts above the specified level were used. In general, discrepancies in swab results between the BioLumix vial method and the traditional plate count method reflected marginal samples that were very close to the specified testing level, and thus were variable.


Carrick, K, Barney M, Navarro, A. and Ryder D. (2001). The Comparison of Four Bioluminometers and Their Swab Kits for Instant Hygiene Monitoring and Detection of Microorganisms in the Brewery. J. Institute of Brewing 107, 32-37
Easter M. (2010) A comparison of commercial ATP hygiene monitoring systems. Next Generation Food issue 9, 2010.
Eden, R. and Brideau, R. (2012). Validation of a Rapid System for Environmental Monitoring and Water Testing. In Environmental Monitoring Volume 6, Jeanne Moldenhauer, Ed

Come and See us at the IAFP in Indianapolis, IN August 3-6, 2014; Booth 610

The 2014 Annual International Association of Food Protection (IAFP): The IAFP meeting will provide attendees with information on current and emerging food safety issues, the latest science, innovative solutions to new and recurring problems. It also provides an opportunity to network with thousands of food safety professionals from around the globe. This meeting has grown over the years to become the leading food safety conference worldwide.
More than 2,800 scientists, from six continents, attend the IAFP Meeting. This event owes its reputation and success to the quantity, quality and diversity of each year’s program; the quality and relevance of exhibits sharing the latest in available technologies; leading experts speaking on a variety of timely topics.
All of us at BioLumix want to take this opportunity to invite you to our exhibit (booth #610) and show you what’s new at BioLumix. We continue to innovate, growing our assay repertoire and capabilities – allowing you to perform all required assays on raw ingredients and finished products, as well as test environmental samples and process water.
During the IAFP show, we will feature:
New Listeria vial: The vial helps detect Listeria in environmental swabs. The Listeria vial capitalizes on the ability of Listeria to hydrolyze esculin, which in the presence of ferric ions, results in the yellow broth turning black and a reduction of the absorbance. A Listeria detection obtained with the BioLumix system can be further verified using a simple and quick Rapid Listeria Immunostrip Test. There was 100% agreement between the BioLumix system and plate methodology when product swabs contained Listeria.
Enhanced B. cereus vial: Recently the inhibitory system of the B. cereus vial was enhanced to eliminate the detection of non-target organisms. It uses the CO2 sensor at the bottom of the vial. The new BC vial recovers well vegetative cells as well as spores. The method used is very simple; just pipette the diluted sample into the vial. The results are available in 24 hours or less.
Direct inoculation of products into vials: Many products can be introduced directly into the BioLumix test vial without the need of a dilution step. These include yogurts and sour cream, as well as milks. Complete coliform test results are obtained within 12 hours with one vial substituting for nine or more MPN (Most Probable Number) test tubes. Yeast and mold results are obtained in 48 hours rather than 5-7 days using plate methods.

The yogurt can be directly added (Figure 1) into BioLumix vials to measure growth of Coliforms or Yeast and Molds. Specialized high pH BioLumix vials can also be used for yogurt samples. When a low pH yogurt sample is added to the BioLumix high pH Coliform vial (CC), the pH conditions become near neutral. This ensures the yogurt manufacturer to be able to correctly test for coliforms using a direct (without dilution) sample of product. As much as 1 gram of product can be directly tested in each BioLumix test vial.

With automated monitoring of ready-to-use assay vials, along with automated data processing and archiving, the microbiologist’s job gets a lot easier with the same accurate results in less than half the time. Our innovative vial design prevents product interference even when directly testing products, such as yogurt and salad dressing. Come to our booth (#610) or contact us directly (734-984-3100) to learn more about the exciting new developments we are featuring at this year’s IAFP.

The BioLumix Advantage
• Vial design prevents product interference
• Automation and connectivity allows faster product release
• Real-time communication for immediate action
• Expedited results: most results in 12-18 hours; Yeast and mold assay in 48 hours
• Automated data archiving and audit trail
• Streamlined testing increases laboratory efficiencies
• Paperless laboratory: centralized test data automatically stored and protected
• Barcode capability for automated sample entry
• Environmental testing made easy

Free Product Trial
Give us your most difficult samples and we will test them for free. We will provide you with a detailed report which includes a side-by-side comparison to your current manual methodology. The data generated is strictly confidential and is only used to show the high correlation of results should your company decide to purchase.

We look forward to working with you and earning another satisfied customer!

The versatility of the BioLumix System – One system for all your microbial needs.

Why go to an automated system?

There has been a growing awareness over the years that utilizing the current methodology for determining microbial contamination is not cost effective due to the slow turnaround.  Internalizing the microbiology testing and especially adopting rapid microbiological methods (RMM’s) can speed up significantly the time to results from 7-10 days to 15-48 hours.  An automated detection system provides contamination information earlier than the conventional method, products can be released faster, manufacturing at risk is minimized, and investigations can be conducted and concluded closer to the time of the actual contamination.  The obvious benefit of an automated system is the quicker release of finished products, where the shorter ‘time to result’ may generate considerable cost savings. Some of the other advantages of RMM can include greater accuracy, better sensitivity, increased sample throughput, and automated data capture allowing easier data handling and paperless laboratory.

Why You Should Invest in the BioLumix System?

BioLumix SystemTime is money.  For a nominal investment in automation, the BioLumix Rapid Microbiology System will save valuable days in the QC process: optimize operations; increase throughput; and directly impact company profitability!  The BioLumix system allows for all of your microbiology needs to be met with one automated system.  It can be used to test Raw, In-process, and Finished Materials along with environmental and water samples.  The BioLumix system allows the user to test as frequently and as broadly as desired without significant cost or delays. The results are increased capacity along with cost reduction, improvement of logistics, and overall better efficiencies! With shorter sample preparation time and automated data entry, data archiving, report generation, and product release, the BioLumix system simplifies and automates your laboratory procedures. Tests can be also be performed by non-microbiologists, providing significant savings in laboratory labor.

Advantages of the BioLumix System

1)      All assays performed on a single system.  This allows laboratories to purchase one system but offer and perform many different tests, thus eliminating the problem of finding space for multiple systems in the lab and training personnel on multiple instruments.

a)      Microbial results can be generated in 24-48 hours in assays such as Total Aerobic Count, Yeast and Mold, Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa while utilizing one system.  The system is unaffected by product interference and delivers accurate results. BioLumix is dedicated to producing affordable and easily performable assays that laboratories of all sizes can integrate into their daily work flow and yearly budget.

b)      BioLumix has improved the way microbiology can be performed in the cosmetic, toiletry and pharmaceutical industries.BioLumix has improved the way microbiology can be performed in the cosmetic, toiletry and pharmaceutical industries.  BioLumix offers the first automated PET and Microbial Limits system on a single platform, without any product interference! Preservative Efficacy Testing or Challenge Testing (USP<51>), Microbial Enumeration Testing (USP<61>), and Testing for Specified Microorganisms (USP<62>) can be easily performed without the hassle of preparing and counting multiple plates that would be expected using the standard methodology yielding faster results and being more cost effective.

c)      Environmental Monitoring.  In manufacturing facilities there is a need to demonstrate that the production equipment and environment are sufficiently clean so that the next production lot will not be contaminated by the material from the previous lot, removing the potential of cross contamination. One needs to prove with high degree of certainty that the cleaning process was effective. To do so an effective sampling plan needs to be established.  The BioLumix system can be utilized for rapid and simple monitoring of the manufacturing environment.

d)    Water Testing. Water is widely used as a raw material, ingredient, and a solvent in the processing, formulation, and manufacture of pharmaceutical products, active pharmaceutical ingredients and intermediates.Water Testing As such, all water purification systems must be monitored regularly to verify the quality of the water produced. Monitoring of water for microbiological quality may include testing for total heterotrophic plate count, coliforms/E. coli, or by checking for the presence of other organisms suspected to be present in a water sample. The relevant standards relating to pharmaceutical grade water are USP <1231> Water for Pharmaceutical purposes.

2)      Scarcity of skilled personnel: Microbiology laboratories face major challenges such as the growing scarcity of skilled laboratory workers and the burden of the ever-increasing workload.  The BioLumix system requires limited training to successfully set up the tests.  The system is fully automated including archiving of data, data maintenance and report generation, and it can be used to create a paperless laboratory.

3)      In house testing allows a laboratory to be more cost effective.  Increased turnaround time may be one of the most appealing features of an automated system.  Contamination can be caught quicker and actions can be taken immediately so that products can be released faster into the marketplace.

4)      The Validated BioLumix System.  Since June 25, 2010, all dietary supplement manufacturers have been required to comply with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) current good manufacturing practices (cGMP’s) according to the guidance outlined in USP chapters <2021>, <2022>, and <2023>.  The BioLumix system has software that is 21 CFR Part 111 compliant and BioLumix generates a customized validation book for each of its customers that include:

a)      Installation qualification (IQ):  Identification and validation of the system components; validation of the environmental conditions; electrical requirements; computer qualification; verifying that all installation steps were followed; and documentation of instrument calibration.

b)     Operational qualification (OQ):  Verifying that the equipment is properly installed calibrated and is operational.  It includes a unique SOP for all products and assay combinations to be performed on the instrument; software characteristics and the verification that the software is 21 CFR part 11 compliant; verification that all the instrument functions operate as expected; Verification of the instrument temperature accuracy; and training records.

c)      Performance qualification (PQ): is the most extensive part of the BioLumix validation book. It shows equivalency with USP methodology when following USP <1223> “Validation of alternative microbiological methods”.




1)       United States Pharmacopeia Chapter  <51> Antimicrobial Effectiveness Testing

2)       United States Pharmacopeia Chapter  <61> Microbiological Examination of Nonsterile Products:  Microbial Enumeration Tests

3)       United States Pharmacopeia Chapter  <62> Microbiological Examination of Nonsterile Products:  Tests for Specified Microorganisms

4)       United States Pharmacopeia Chapter <1231> Water for Pharmaceutical Purpose

5)       United States Pharmacopeia Chapter <2021> Microbial Enumeration Tests – Nutritional and Dietary Supplements

6)       United States Pharmacopeia Chapter <2022> Microbial Procedures for Absence of Specified Microorganisms – Nutritional and Dietary Supplements

7)       United States Pharmacopeia Chapter <2023> Microbial Attributes of Non-Sterile Nutritional and Dietary Supplements

8)       United States Pharmacopeia Chapter <1223> Validation of Alternative Microbiological Methods



The ultimate purpose of the Preservative Efficacy Test (PET) is to determine the effectiveness of the preservative(s) present in a cosmetic, toiletry, or pharmaceutical product.  USP Chapter <51> ANTIMICROBIAL EFFECTIVENESS TESTING describes the type of products to be tested (categories), the specified microorganisms to be used for testing, and the inoculum and log reduction amounts required per category of product.  The product to be tested is inoculated with a high number of bacteria, yeast, and mold, and the reduction in the initial inoculum amount is calculated over a 28 day period.

Current Methodology

Until now, the only way to perform PET was by the plate count method.  Typically, a product is inoculated with a high number of organisms (usually 105 - 107), and after 7, 14, 21, and 28 days, samples of that inoculated product are tested to determine the log reduction that occurred to the organisms when subjected to the preservative system.  Because it is not known how effective the preservative system is, serial dilutions have to be plated to determine the number of organisms remaining in one gram of product.  As a result every organism require a number of plates, dilution bottles and tips as shown in figure 1.

Advantages of BioLumix Simplified Automated System

The main advantages the customer gains using BioLumix are savings on time, labor, and materialsPreservative Efficacy Test

The BioLumix assay (Figure 2) takes about 75% less hands-on labor as compared to the standard plate count method, and the simplicity of the BioLumix method is unparalleled.  Ease of use, less materials (as seen in comparing Fig1 to Fig2), and less dilution reduces the chance of error.  After inoculation of product with pure cultures, the BioLumix method allows the operator to perform testing in 4 easy steps:

  1. Weigh 1.0 gram of inoculated product to a sterile sample bag.
  2. Add 9.0 mL neutralizing broth and allow to sit for up to 45 minutes.
  3. Add 1.0 mL to the BioLumix vial.
  4. Enter the vial into the BioLumix Instrument and begin the automated testing.

Pre-programmed calibration curves as shown in Figure 3 are used to generate the colony forming unit count per gram of product based on the detection time of the curve.  This eliminates tedious counting of multiple plates and interpretation of results when working with thick or waxy products, or products containing materials that may resemble bacterial or yeast colonies.  The BioLumix method also saves time in obtaining results.  For each day of sampling, BioLumix reduces the time-to-results for bacteria from 48 hours to 24 hours and from 5-7 days for yeasts and mold to 48 hours.  The BioLumix system uses a single vial to replace a number of plates, dilution bottles and pipet tips, thereby reducing disposable costs.calibration curves

Example of Results Obtained

The example, show the results of PET obtained with eye drops with and without benzalkonium chloride.  The results obtained by both the BioLumix system (BL) and the plate count methodology are shown in the two table below.

results obtained by both the BioLumix system (BL) and the plate count methodology

results obtained by both the BioLumix system (BL) and the plate count methodologyThe data by both methods shows that in the product with the inhibitor benzalkonium chloride (Table1) after 7 days all bacteria are reduced by more than 5 log cycles, as are the counts of Candida. It took 14 days for Aspergillus to be reduced by 5 log cycles.

When the product did not contain benzalkonium chloride (Table 2) and as a result was not properly preserved, only P. aeruginosa was reduced by 5 logs after 7 days. E. coli took 14 days to reduce the numbers by 5 logs. The other organism had a very slow reduction over time.  The counts of Aspergillus were reduced by less that 2 log cycles.  The results show that the two methods yield very similar results.

Many other products were tested with the BioLumix PET methodology including scrubs, creams, lotions, Shampoos, hand and facial cleansers to name a few, and equivalency with the plate count methodology and reproducibility of results was demonstrated for all products.

The BioLumix system allows the operator to save time, materials, and money by drastically cutting hands-on labor and time-to-results.  If offers labor reduction by 75-80% of the labor required for the Petri dish method, with much less disposable used, faster time to results and good correlation with current methodology.  It allows for the creation of a paperless laboratory.  The system automation provides automated data achieving, and automated reporting including log reduction calculations.

Growth Promotion and Negative Controls – Does Shipping Affect the Results?

Why Growth Promotion?

USP Chapter <61>, Microbiological Examination of Non-sterile Products: Microbial Enumeration Tests ,there is a requirement for the testing of Growth Promotion (GP) for each batch of medium as well as testing for Negative Controls (NC).  Growth Promotion must be tested for each new batch of nutritive broth.  The purpose of the GP Test is to determine the suitability of the culture media for the growth of target organisms.  The medium is challenged with a small number (not more than 100 cfu) of microorganisms to assure its nutritive properties.

USP Chapter 61USP Chapter <61> lists the following acceptance criteria for liquid medium: “Liquid media are suitable if clearly visible growth of the microorganisms comparable to that previously obtained with a previously tested and approved batch of medium occurs.” It is recommended to use parallel testing; in parallel testing the new medium and the previously approved medium are inoculated with the same microorganism suspension, by the same technician, using the same method and same environmental conditions.  The only variable is the medium. GPT is performed by inoculating the product with ? 100 CFU of microorganisms, defined by the pharmacopoeia.

BioLumix Quality Assurance and Certificate of Analysis

For every batch of vials prepared by BioLumix a thorough testing, including growth promotion and negative controls, is done.  Growth promotion is tested performed, for each organism, by inoculating 4 vials of the new lot and comparing the detection time (DT), and amplitude of the curve to a lot that previously passed the PG. At least 2 different strains of organisms are used in each media.  Additionally at least one negative control organisms is tested and compared to the reference.  In the growth control assay the DT of the new lot has to be within a range of 50-200% from the reference vial.  A certificate of analysis is issued with each lot of vials.

Is there a need to redo GP and NC after shipping the vials to the end users?

In other words, does the shipping of the vials to the end users influence the GP and NC of the vials? The study described below was undertaken to answer this question.  BioLumix vials are always shipped UPS second day air.  The furthest destination in the USA is California.  The study was conducted by double shipping second day air to California and back.

Summary of Validation Data

Methodology-Quadruplicate vials that were shipped to California and were returned from there where compared to vials that stayed in the lab. This test was performed on three different lots of media, using three different media types (Total Aerobic Count, Enterobacteriaceae, and Yeast and Mold Vials).

Results-The data shows that the shipped vials and the vials that stayed in the laboratory results of the test show identical growth curveshad identical growth curves, falling close to each other.   There is no difference in growth promotion or negative control between vials that were shipped (actually double shipped) and vials that stayed on the shelf for any of these lots, as can be seen from the attached example.  The example compares the curves of total aerobic count vials (TAC) inoculated with Bacillus spizizenii var subtilis ATCC 6633, shipped to vials that remained in the laboratory (Key: Shipped vials: Purple, Yellow, Beige and Dark Green; vials that remained in the lab: Dark Blue, light Green, Light Blue and Red lines). As can be seen from this example the Curves are indistinguishable

Similar results were obtained for all three lots of TAC inoculated with Bacillus spizizenii var subtilis ATCC 6633; Escherichia coli ATCC 8739; and Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 6538;

A buffer was used as a negative control for the TAC vials, and no difference was seen for all three lots between shipped and vials that remained in the lab.

Similar results were obtained with combined yeast and mold vials (YM) inoculated with Aspergillus brasiliensis ATCC 16404; Candida albicans ATCC 10231; Saccharomyces cerevisiae ATCC 9763; and Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 6538 (SAT1) as negative control.  There is no difference in growth promotion or negative control between vials that were shipped and vials that stayed.

The shipping experiment was also conducted with Bile-Tolerant Gram-Negative Bacteria vials (ENT) inoculated with Escherichia coli ATCC 8739; Salmonella enteritidis subsp. enterica serovar enteritidis ATCC 13076; Citrobacter freundii ATCC 8090; and Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 6538 as a negative control. There was no difference between the data generated by the system for shipped vials, as compared to vials that remained in the laboratory.


The data shows that the shipped vials and the vials that stayed in the laboratory had identical growth curves, falling on top of each other.   There is no impact of shipping on growth promotion or negative control.  The results validate that there is no reason to perform again the growth promotion and negative controls after shipping to the end user. The C of A supplied with the BioLumix vials is indicative of Growth Promotion and Negative Control followed the shipping.

BioLumix Simplified, Rapid, Automated Microbiology on Display at Ingredient Marketplace 2014 in New York

BioLumix Simplified, Rapid, Automated Microbiology on Display at Ingredient Marketplace 2014 in New York

May 5, 2014 by Linda Schmaler & Paul Dudley
Since its beginnings in 2006, BioLumix, Inc. has been on the leading edge of technology in the world of microbiology.  On June 2 – 3, 2014, that technology will be on display at Ingredient Marketplace 2014 at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City.  This year, BioLumix has added a new assay to its already robust line of test vials: Listeria

Ingredient MarketplaceSupplySide Marketplace has changed its name to Ingredient Marketplace, and is built upon the theme, “What’s Inside Matters.”  With consumers seeking safer, healthier products, manufacturers today are more focused than ever on providing their products to satisfy their demands while at the same time coming up with effective ways to improve both their products and the means by which they are brought to market.  This is where BioLumix can make a difference!

The BioLumix System monitors changes in broth medium in which target organisms grow.  Microbial metabolism causes the reagents on the proprietary vial to change their color or fluorescence, and real-time monitoring of these changes by optical sensors provide immediate feedback.  This means that a sample that tests above spec is known right away.  The optical sensor monitors vials in the testing unit 10 times per hour.

BioLumix provides test vials for a wide range of assays:

  • Total Aerobic Count
  • Coliform
  • Enterobacteriaceae
  • Yeast and mold count
  • Gram negative bacteria
  • Heterotrophic bacteria
  • Sterility testing
  • Preservative efficacy test
  • Microbial limits
  • Suitability testing
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Escherichia coli
  • Listeria
  • Bacillus cereus
  • Lactic acid bacteria

Listeria VialThe impact of the BioLumix automated rapid microbiology system can be realized in a wide variety of benefits:

  • Ready-to-use vials come with a Certificate of Analysis
  • All confirmation steps are done directly from the vial
  • Certificate of Analysis (C of A) for all assays produced within 48 hours
  • Customized Validation Package in compliance with USP <2021>, <2022>, <2023>, or USP <61> and <62>
  • Automated real-time monitoring for rapid results
  • Ease-of-use – the system can be operated by non-microbiologists, which can allow microbiologists to perform other tasks
  • Centralized data processing and archiving for easy management of results
  • Same-day Total Aerobic Counts and Coliform results
  • Yeast and Mold results within 48 hours
  • Objectionable organisms can be tested on the same platform

These benefits translate into significant business advantages, such as early detection of problems, faster product release, product validation, improvements in factory and lab capacity, lower cost of inventory, and reduced cost of capital.  In addition, all installations include real-time, 24/7 support by a dedicated BioLumix microbiologist.

Please join us at Ingredient Marketplace 2014, and be sure to stop by our booth (417).  For more information, visit

Why is it important to test Pet Food for microbiology?

Pet Food microbiologyThe pet food industry is nearly a $22.2 Billion dollar a year industry and projected to almost double by the year 2017.  Nearly 101 million homes have at least one pet in the household, and there are nearly 170 million cats and dogs owned in the United States alone.  New trends in pet food are emerging as consumers want to give their pets the freshest food possible and make sure that it is healthier for them as well.  In the past few years there have been multiple outbreaks related to pet food affecting the health of both pets and humans.  Most people associate Salmonella as a bacterium linked to food borne illness in people food, but in recent years there have been quite a few outbreaks of Salmonella in pet food that has also affected humans.  The most concerning aspect is that it primarily caused illness in small children.

Several recalls of pet food due to Salmonella happened in the recent past as shown in the examples that follows. On February 5, 2014 – Pro-Pet LLC, has initiated a voluntary recall of a limited number of Dry Dog and Cat Foods for possible Salmonella contamination. A single field test indicated products manufactured during a two-day period, on a single production line might have the potential for Salmonella contamination1.  On January 25, 2014 – PMI Nutrition, LLC (PMI), has initiated a voluntary recall of its 20 lb. bags of Red Flannel® Cat Formula cat food for possible Salmonella contamination2. On November 4, 2013 – Bailey’s Choice LLC, had recalled its 5 oz. packages of chicken treats because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems3.

The CDC also added an information page on keeping people and pet healthy and safe from Salmonella4.  There was also a pet food recall based on an aflatoxin contamination.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) categorizes aflatoxin as a naturally occurring fungal toxin that contaminates maize and other types of crops during production, harvest storage or processing5.  The aflatoxin outbreak was linked to the death of over a hundred pets.  In the past year Kroger stores recalled a wide variety of pet foods due to a possible contamination caused by aflatoxin4.

Microbiology Testing of Pet Foods

Why test for indicator organisms? It is more effective to test for indicator organisms rather than to test for pathogens such as Salmonella.  Indicator organisms are used to measure potential fecal contamination of environmental samples. The presence of coliform bacteria, such as E. coli, is a common indicator of fecal contamination. Indicator organisms are typically used to demonstrate the potential presence or absence of groups of pathogens. The use of indicators is attractive because it reduces the complexity and cost of analyzing. Indicator bacteria are selected for the following reasons:

1) They are initially abundant in the matrix to be assayed.

2) A relatively rapid, accurate, and cost effective analytical method for enumerating the indicator exists or can be readily developed.

3) A reasonably strong correlation exists between the presence/absence of the indicator and a particular pathogen or group of pathogens. The strength of the correlation will determine the effectiveness and accuracy of the indicator as a measure of pathogen occurrence.

4) Indicator organisms can be used to pet food manufacturing to cleanliness and sanitary issues within the facility.

Assays Performed on pet foods: in pet food, testing is conducted for Enterobacteriaceae or fecal coliform as indicator of fecal contamination and yeast and mold as indicators for general quality and aflaxoins.

What are the advantages of the BioLumix system?

The system serves, as a platform to perform all required assays- using the BioLumix system will allow the pet food manufacturers to test their products not only for Salmonella and yeast/molds, but also for indicator organisms such as coliforms, fecal coliforms, Enterobacteriaceae and more.

Saving time- The BioLumix system can save time when testing pet food products for Yeast and Mold, instead of taking five days using traditional plates, the BioLumix system will give the same results in under 48 hours.  This can help the manufacturers to avoid a potential aflatoxin contamination by knowing if their product contains any amount of mold.

Economical cost of assays: Instead of running an MPN assay, which will require up to 5 days of testing as well as 9 tubes of LTB and up to 9 tubes of EC Media to wait for confirmation of a positive fecal coliform, the BioLumix system requires less than 24 hours and a single vial.  Finally, the last confirmation step is to streak the positive EC Media to L-EMB agar plates; the BioLumix system instead requires one test vial and 1ml of the sample in order to detect a level as low at <10 cfu/gram, and can give results in under 24 hours.  Similarly, the Enterobacteriaceae test in BioLumix requires one vial instead of multiple MPN tubes required by the European method.

Screening Products: BioLumix Rapid Microbiology Testing can also be helpful in screening products to determine what the next steps are.  Some manufacturers sample the product from the line and test for total aerobic count. If the level is below a certain number, then the product can be sent out to the market, if it is above the specification level then it has to go through a special sterilization procedure which costs more money as well as a delay in the product reaching the customer.

BioLumix Pet Food Study

BioLumix originally conducted a study of different store bought pet foods, ranging from dry dog food samples to wet (oil based) samples.  All samples matched the results for Yeast/Mold, Enterobacteriaceae, Total Aerobic Count, E. coli and fecal coliforms when comparing between the BioLumix System and traditional plating methods.  The products were processed and tested using FDA-BAM methods7.

Total Aerobic Count: There was 100% agreement between the two methods for all samples tested. Fourteen samples were below the specified level by both methods.  One sample was above the specified level by both methods.  One sample was inoculated to show the ability of the system to detect positive samples.

Yeast and Mold Count: There was 100% agreement between the two methods. Fifteen samples were below the specified level by both methods and two samples were above the specified level by both methods. One samples was inoculated with yeast or mold to show the ability of the system to detect positive samples.

Enterobacteriaceae: There was 100% agreement between the two methods. Thirteen samples were below the specified level by both methods and two samples were above the specified level by both methods.

E. coli: Fifteen products were tested for E. coli at a level of Absence in 10 grams.  There was 100% agreement between the two methods. Fifteen samples were below the specified level by both methods. One sample was inoculated with E. coli and were detected as containing E. coli by both methods

Salmonella: Ten products were tested for Salmonella at a level of Absence in 25 grams.  There was 100% agreement between the two methods. Ten samples were below the specified level by both methods after a confirmation step. One sample was inoculated with Salmonella and was detected as containing Salmonella.

BioLumix has also conducted a study using fresh pet food, which is an emerging product in the marketplace.  The study yielded similar results as the initial BioLumix study, except Lactic Acid Bacteria was also tested.

The BioLumix System showed a high correlation between the instrument results and the BAM methodology.  It simplified the microbiological testing, offers a significant reduction in time to obtain results and reduces hands-on labor due to its automation and simplicity of use.  The time to results for bacteria was hours rather than days while yeast and mold required only 48 hours instead of 5 days.


Are You Ready for an FDA Inspection? Surviving the Audit

When it comes to facility audits, tensions run high, even for the most prepared.  When your facility is being audited, the documents used for evaluation come from the Code of Federal Regulations, 21 CFR 111 (Current Good Manufacturing Practice in Manufacturing, Packaging, Labeling, or Holding Operations for Dietary Supplements).  These documents review specifications, responsibilities to meet those specifications, written procedures, and laboratory operations.  Here, we focus on the microbial aspect of these requirements.

Microbiology Lab Ready for FDAWhat specifications must you establish?

For dietary supplements, specification limits must be set on contaminants that may adulterate (change) or lead to adulteration of the in process or finished batch.  Documentation as to why these specifications will help to ensure contaminants will not lead to adulteration should be in place.  It is your responsibility to ensure the established specifications are met and properly documented.

What steps should be taken to make sure specifications are met?

Appropriate testing should be in place to be sure specifications are within compliance.  You may also rely on a certificate of analysis (C of A) from the supplier of the component that you receive provided you first qualify that supplier’s certificate of analysis through testing.  If you rely on the suppliers C of A, it should include a description of the testing performed, specifications, and actual results of the test.  Periodic auditing of C of A results is required, and should be part of the microbial testing.  To ensure the finished product specifications are met, the in-process procedure should be in place to monitored and make sure that  unanticipated contamination does not occur at any stage.

Requirements for Laboratory Operations

Written procedures (Standard operating Procedures-SOP), for laboratory operations for tests and examination of product must be in place.  Lab operations should ensure that all lab material specifications and dietary supplement specifications are met.  Test methods should be well documented and validated, and sample-collecting plans should also be in place and followed.

Out of Specification Operations

If specifications are not met, a procedure (SOP) must be present and followed to correct for any error made during processing or testing.  A modified method of testing may be necessary.

Microbiology Lab RequirementsThe Validated BioLumix System

BioLumix generates a customized validation book for each of its customers that include:

Installation qualification (IQ):  Identification and validation of the system components; validation of the environmental conditions; electrical requirements; computer qualification; verifying that all installation steps were followed;  and documentation of instrument calibration.

Operational qualification (OQ):  Verifying that the equipment is properly installed, calibrated and is operational.  It includes a unique SOP for all products and assay combinations to be performed on the instrument; software characteristics and the verification that the software is 21 CFR part 11 compliant; verification that all the instrument functions operate as expected; Verification of the instrument temperature accuracy; and training records.

Performance qualification (PQ): is the most extensive part of the BioLumix validation book. It shows equivalency with USP methodology when following USP <1223> “Validation of alternative microbiological methods”.

BioLumix has some quick tips to be sure that your BioLumix system passes inspection without any fuss.

How to Use the BioLumix Validation Book?

Your customized validation book is a major component in your system, just like the instruments and vials themselves.  Make sure the person in charge of validation knows exactly where the validation book is.  Also, be sure that all pages of the book requiring signatures, are signed by the appropriate personnel, and the operator has a good grasp on the meaning of each attachment.  The training log of attachment 9 should show that appropriate training was provided to all operators.  All SOPs used in product testing must also be included in the book.

Side-by-Side Testing

Attachment 16 in the validation book shows your company’s own product testing and the data generated not only with the BioLumix system, but with the USP plate count method as well.  It generally starts with the report that was generated when samples were first sent to BioLumix for testing.  Since then, your company should have added to this data to show continuity between the BioLumix and plate count methods.  Attachment 18 is much more in depth, showing a wide variety of products, vial types, and specification limits.  This data verifies the comparability between the two methods on a broad spectrum.

Vials and Reagents

Make sure that the vials and reagents in use are within their expire dates.  Also be sure the Certificate of Analysis matches the vials.  It may seem like common sense, but when days get busy, some things may be overlooked.  Be sure all reagents are stored at the proper temperature conditions as specified by BioLumix.

Optical Calibration

It is important that your instruments be calibrated optically at least every 6 months, and full temperature and optical calibration be performed annually.  These documents should be held in Attachment 8 of your validation book.  This will show that care was taken to keep the instruments performing at optimal levels.

By following these guidelines, you should be ready for your audit.  As always, BioLumix is just a phone call away with any questions or concerns you or the auditor may have.

It is important for all to know that BioLumix customers pass FDA microbiological audits without any problems.

BioLumix Exhibits at Engredea March 2014!

Join BioLumix at booth #616 in Anaheim March 7th – 9th, 2014 for Engredea 2014 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Engredea 2014: Anaheim, CAEngredea brings together the community of leading suppliers and manufacturers of new ingredients, packaging, technologies, equipment, and services in the global nutrition industry. Engredea, co-located with Natural Products Expo West, is the only trade show that brings together the full food chain of supply to shelf.

The BioLumix Rapid Microbiology System  delivers significant reduction in time to results, reduced staff involvement,  and faster product release.  BioLumix can save multiple days versus current testing methods and dramatically impact key profit drivers. The validated BioLumix system allows for easy compliance with cGMP. BioLumix will streamline your microbiological testing saving significant time labor and money.  BioLumix delivers shorter sample preparation, automated real-time communication, fast product release and early warning of contamination.  It is paperless and efficient, saving on disposables, time and space.  The system eliminates product interference, delivering accurate results. Engredea 2014: Anaheim, CA

Driving Profit Ability!
With BioLumix Rapid, Automated Microbiology you can view microbiology product testing from a position of company strength and competitive advantage!  Streamline your microbiological testing, reduce cost, increase efficiency and show rapid return on investment.  The BioLumix system is fully automated, validated against USP methodology and 21 CFR Part 11 Compliant.  The system delivers complete microbiology testing results within 24-48 hours, allowing for faster product release time, shorter sample prep time – saving time, money and other resources.

Why Visit us at Booth #616?

Be sure to stop by the BioLumix booth (#616) to view a product demo and inquire about our special show pricing.  Be sure to examine our numerous product literature and scientific white papers.

We would like to show you how the BioLumix System will make your company more efficient and add profits to your bottom line!  For a nominal investment in automation, the BioLumix Rapid Microbiology System will:

Save valuable days in the Microbiology Quality Control Process

Optimize Operations

Increase Throughput    AND…..

Directly Impact Company Profitability!

We look forward to the opportunity to earn another satisfied customer!

BioLumix Validation Book for Dietary Supplements

According to cGMP all dietary supplement products should to be tested in accordance with the methods described in USP <2021> and <2022>. The required assays might include Total Aerobic Microbial Count, Total Combined Mold and Yeast, Bile-Tolerant-Gram-Negative bacteria, and objectionable organisms (absent in 10 grams of organism such as Salmonella, E. coli, and sometimes S. aureus). To do these tests companies either send product samples to contract laboratories for microbiological testing or test their samples internally.  Many outside laboratories utilize BAM and AOAC methods that were never validated against the USP methodology for Dietary Supplement products.

BioLumix Validation BookFDA’s GMP inspection program for dietary supplements has evolved since its debut a few years ago, with the agency increasingly strict in its interpretations of the regulation and requirements.  Validation of any new microbiological method is required prior to entering its use in the commercial arena. The validation assures equivalency of the new method to the reference method. This means that the new technique or device is giving us “real results” that are reproducible and that can be trusted. USP <1223> Validation of alternative microbiological methods and ISO 16140 defines the general principle and the technical protocol for the validation of alternative methods in the field of microbiological analysis.

BioLumix generates a customized validation book for each of its customers. The book includes:

Installation qualification (IQ):  Identification and validation of the system components; validation of the environmental conditions; electrical requirements; computer qualification; verifying that all installation steps were followed;  and documentation of instrument calibration.

Operational qualification (OQ):  Verifying that the equipment is properly installed, calibrated and is operational.  It includes a unique SOP for all products and assay combinations to be performed on the instrument; software characteristics and the verification that the software is 21 CFR part 11 compliant; verification that all the instrument functions operate as expected; Verification of the instrument temperature accuracy; and training records.

Performance Qualification (PQ):

Performance qualification is the most extensive part of the BioLumix validation book. It shows equivalency with USP methodology when following USP <1223> “Validation of alternative microbiological methods”.

  • Side-by-side comparison: Side-by-side results are comparable between the BioLumix method and the reference method when testing by the BioLumix Dilute-to-Specification Protocol.   A generic study was performed testing all types of Nutraceutical, botanicals and dietary supplements for Total aerobic count. A total of 252 samples with counts in the range of 100 cfu/g to 10,000,000 cfu/g   were analyzed, including   botanical powders, botanical extracts, infusions, alcohol extracts, raw materials, and finished products. There was a 99.6% agreement between the BioLumix method and the SP plate count method. Testing similar products for yeast and mold counts in the range of 10 cfu/g to 100,000 cfu/g there was a 98.1% agreement; and for Gram negative Bile Tolerant bacteria 98.7% agreement.  Similar results are shown for all objectionable groups of organisms such as E. coli, S. aureus, P. aeruginosa, and Salmonella.  Unique customer samples are also tested and compared to USP results.
  • Specificity (Inclusivity and Exclusivity): is the ability of the media in each vial to detect a wide range of organisms belonging to the target group, and not detect using non-target organisms, which demonstrates that the method is fit for its intended purpose.  The inclusivity and exclusivity of each of the media used by the system was extensively studied.  The data shows good inclusivity and exclusivity.
  • Limit of detection (LOD):  are the lowest microbial counts in a sample that can be detected under the conditions used.  The limit of detection was evaluated for Total Aerobic count, Yeast and Mold count and Gram negative Bile Tolerant bacteria.  The data shows that for all 3 media the limit of detection was close to 1-3 cfu/vial.
  • Precision and Repeatability:  is the degree of agreement among individual test results when repeatedly testing multiple samples of suspensions of microorganisms across the range of the test.  It is usually expressed as standard deviation (SD) or coefficient of variation (CV) of a series of measurements. Generally, a %CV of 15%-35% is acceptable. All the results obtained were well within the acceptable range.
  • Robustness: indicates the capacity of the device or technique to absorb small variations such as: incubation conditions, incubation temperature, media and sample volumes, etc.   The data demonstrates the robustness of the system with various media.
  • Ruggedness: is related to the reproducibility of the results considering different equipment (different instrument units), personnel, different lots of reagents, etc.  The BioLumix system has been demonstrated to be very rugged with high precision of test results obtained by analyzing the same microorganisms under a variety of different operating conditions including different analysts, different instrument units, and various  lots of media.
  • False negative rate: A false negative is a test in which samples that are inoculated or naturally contaminated generate a positive result in the reference method (plate count) but are negative in the test method (BioLumix). Naturally contaminated samples were tested at various specification levels, the BioLumix procedure detected the samples as being contaminated in all cases while the plate count method had a false negative result.
  • False positive rate: A false positive is a test in which a sample that does not contain the target organism generates a positive result in the BioLumix system but not in the Plate Count method. A false positive rate of 2.5% was seen in total aerobic count and no false positives were seen in the yeast and mold assay.


There is a need for rapid microbial detection technologies in order to improve the quality of products and their safety and speed up time to results. Their benefit could include significant reductions in time-to-result over conventional methods, improved sensitivity, specificity and accuracy, benefits of automation, reduced requirements for staff training, rapid product release, and lower inventory.  New rapid automated methods in microbiology need to be validated, and the BioLumix system comes with a validation book.

  • Unique validation book created for each customer.
  • Single platform testing for all assays
  • Real-time communication – early warning of contamination
  • Automated Certificate of Analysis in 48 hours
  • No product interference with ready-to-use vials with organism specific enrichment medium
  • Technology based on traditional media
  • Stackable compact instruments take up little bench-top space
  • Technical service available 24/7


Food  and  Drug  Administration  (FDA)  (2007),  21  CFR  Part  11,  Guidance  for Industry; Electronic Records; Electronic Signatures – Scope and Application. The National Formulary, Rockville, MD

United States Pharmacopeia (USP) (2008), Chapter <1223>, Validation of Alternative Microbiological Methods. The National Formulary, Rockville, MD

United States Pharmacopeia (USP) (2008), Chapter <2021>, Microbial enumeration tests-Nutritional and dietary supplements. The National Formulary, Rockville, MD

United States Pharmacopeia (USP) (2008), Chapter <2022> Microbiological procedures for Absence of Specified Microorganisms- Nutritional and dietary supplements. The National Formulary, Rockville, MD

Rapid Automated Testing of Probiotic Organisms

Definition and Health benefits of Probiotics: The World Health Organization’s 2001 definition of probiotics is “live micro-organisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer health benefits on the host”.[1] This definition, although widely adopted, is not acceptable to the European Food Safety Authority because it embeds a health claim which is not measurable.[2] Etymologically, the term appears to be a composite of the Latin preposition pro (“for”) and the Greek βιωτικος(biotic), the latter deriving from the noun βιος (bios, “life”) [3].

Health benefits: Some digestive disease specialists are recommending the use of probiotic organisms to help in the treatment of disorders that frustrate conventional medicine, such as irritable bowel syndrome. Since the mid-1990s, clinical studies have established that probiotic therapy can help in the treatment of several gastrointestinal ills, may delay the development of allergies in children, and both treat and prevent vaginal and urinary infections in women.

Examples of Probiotic Organisms: There are hundreds of strains of probiotic bacteria. The most commonly used organisms include Lactobacillus sp. (such as L. acidophilus, L. casei, L. fermentum , L. rhamnosus) Bifidobacterium sp, (such as B. Bifidum, B. lactis and B. longum), Streptococcus thermophilus, Bacillus coagulans,and Enterococcus faecium.
Potency Testing: Probiotics offer a broad range of health benefits. As with any supplement, the efficacy of a probiotic depends on dosage. Essentially the titer of live organisms is the critical part in determining potency. Recommending an adequate dose for an individual patient requires clear knowledge of the potency of a product. Probiotic potency is specified as the numbers of viable cells of the beneficiary organism. Confidence in the accuracy of this number is essential for successful and consistent clinical results.
Enumeration of bacteria has been a routine practice in microbiology for over 100 years. The gold-standard method used to determine the titer of organisms is known as the viable plate count that is used to generate a count referred to as colony forming units (CFU). On probiotic product labels, results are expressed in CFU per serving. Since probiotic cells are sensitive to their environment, potency is subject to change. Therefore, potency must be determined after manufacturing, shipping and storage. Thus the supplement industry needs a rapid, accurate, and reliable method for testing of probiotic organisms is therefore needed. BioLumix offers a novel rapid method for enumeration of Probiotic organisms.

BioLumix Methodology for Potency Testing:
A calibration curve is generated to easily relate the number of colony forming units determined using the plate count method to the detection times (DT) in the BioLumix instrument. These calibration curves are embedded into the instrument software and are used to access the number of probiotic organisms present in the product sample for individual organisms. An example is shown in the Graph for the Lactobacillus acidophilus. Currently, individual calibration curves are available for the following organisms: L. casei, L. acidophilus, L. rhamnosus, L. bulgarus, B. coagulans, B. longum, B. bifidum, E. feacalis, and S. thermophilus. The procedure used to test sample cultures involves a single 1:10,000 dilution of the sample followed by the addition of 0.1 ml to the appropriate test vial. Organism growth may occur rapidly, often in less than 24 hr, and the BioLumix instrument generates an estimate of the cfu per gram of sample. This is a much more rapid method than the traditional plate methods that often takes 3-7 days for Lactobacillus species. Using the BioLumix rapid method can be much less expensive than traditional plate methods for Lactobacillus species as these organisms often require specialty media under conditions of low oxygen (candle jars).

Microbial contamination: Good manufacturing Practices must be applied in the manufacture of probiotic containing products. Contamination of probiotic products with undesirable microorganisms is possible in uncontrolled fermentation and during handling. Therefore, most probiotic batches need to be tested for indicator organisms such as coliforms and to also show the absence of potentially harmful organisms such as E. coli, Staphylococcus and Salmonella.

BioLumix Methodology for Microbial Contamination: The BioLumix simplified automated system can detect indicator organisms and objectionable organisms, if present, in a fraction of the time of traditional methods, with significantly less hands-on time. The system offers a wide variety of rapid assays for samples, including assays to detect yeast & molds, coliforms, E. coli, Staphylococcus, Pseudomonas and Salmonella.

1. Schlundt, Jorgen. “Health and Nutritional Properties of Probiotics in Food including Powder Milk with Live Lactic Acid Bacteria”. Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Evaluation of Health and Nutritional Properties of Probiotics in Food Including Powder Milk with Live Lactic Acid Bacteria. FAO / WHO.
2. Rijkers, Ger T.; De Vos, Willem M.; Brummer, Robert-Jan; Morelli, Lorenzo; Corthier, Gerard; Marteau, Philippe (2011). “Health benefits and health claims of probiotics: Bridging science and marketing”. British Journal of Nutrition 106 (9): 1291–6.
3. Hamilton-Miller, J. M. T.; Gibson, G. R.; Bruck, W. “Some insights into the derivation and early uses of the word ‘probiotic’”. British Journal of Nutrition 2003 (90): 845.

Thank you for your Continued Loyalty to BioLumix!

We would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to all of our valued customers: Thank you for choosing BioLumix as your partner in microbiological testing!  BioLumix is proud to have more than 500 systems in place throughout the world, as more companies adopt our rapid microbiology testing system.  During 2013 more and more companies have chosen our novel streamline technology and enjoy accelerated product release with our simplified, automated microbiology.

For those that are looking for improved company profitability in the coming year, we hope you will allow us the opportunity to demonstrate how the BioLumix automated method for rapid micro testing can positively impact your company’s bottom line.  We would like to invite you to take a tour of our system which allows you to test raw materials and finished products.  Powders, oils, enzymes, botanical material, tablets, capsules, food products, dairy products, and beverages can be easily tested without product interference. Automated monitoring of ready-to-use assay vials, automated data processing and archiving (paperless), makes the microbiologist‘s job a lot easier with the same accurate results in less than half the time. Please start the New Year by contacting us for a free product trial.

Our entire organization wishes you a wonderful holiday season, a prosperous New Year and we look forward to earning many more satisfied customers in the coming year.

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for a bright and successful year ahead, filled with joy and treasured moments.

Detection of psuedomonads in dairy and water samples using a quantatative one-step testing protocol in just one day

By Roger Brideau*
*Presented in part at the International Association of Food Preservation
‘IAFP’ Conference in Charlotte NC USA

dairy microbiology detection of psuedomonads Introduction- Pseudomonad organisms are a major cause of bacterial spoilage of pasteurized milk and dairy products due to post process contamination.  Early detection of Pseudomonad’s can be a predictor of product shelf-life as they are the predominant psychotropic bacteria present.  BioLumix has developed a rapid method for the detection of Pseudomonad’s in dairy products and the method is also applicable to their detection in process water.

Purpose- To evaluate the ability of the BioLumix system to detect Pseudomonad’s in dairy products, determine the speed to results, sensitivity, selectivity and ability to predict shelf-life.

Methods- the BioLumix system is an optical system that detects growth of Pseudomonad’s using a CO2 sensor in selective growth media.  The BioLumix system was directly compared to the plate count methodology for milk samples stored at refrigerated temperatures and held overnight at room temperatures (enriched).  Testing of water was also accomplished in side by side studies to show the capability of the BioLumix system for quantitation of Pseudomonads.

Results:  Growth of Pseudomonad’s in the BioLumix vial
Table of quantitation of Pseudomonads
A growth comparison was made for detection of each Pseudomonad in the BioLumix system using PSE-B vials and on CFC (Pseudomonas agar) spread plates.  Table 1 summarizes the growth of freshly diluted samples of organisms that were enriched in TSB during the prior 18-24 hrs.  The PSE-B vials are selective, as shown by not allowing growth of unrelated gram positive and gram negative bacteria, yeast or mold.  Four different species of Pseudomonad’s grew in the PSE-B vial and on CFC plates.

Milk Sample Testing
Commercial milk samples were tested upon arrival in the laboratory.  Five of twenty were positive for the presence of Pseudomonad’s using both PSE-B vials and CFC spread agar plates.  After storage for 3-7 days, twelve of twenty samples were positive for Pseudomonad’s including after enrichment at RT for 16-18 hrs.  Thus, refrigerated milk samples have varying incidence of Pseudomonad flora.

Dairy Microbiology Calibration dataMilk Calibration Curve
Organisms from milk samples that grew in PSE-B vials and on CFC plates were used to generate the Calibration Curve shown in Figure 1. These data suggest that low numbers (~10) of Pseudomonad’s should detect within 24 hrs in the PSE-B vial. The Calibration Curve can be embedded into the BioLumix software on the instrument and used to generate a read-out of cfu per gram of milk.  This enables quantitation of the milk sample for the presence of Pseudomonad’s before 24 hr; a distinct advantage over plate methodology taking 48-72 hours.

Dairy Microbiology detection time distributionDistribution of Data
In the dairy settings the goal is to separate a “good” sample that has a potential to maintain quality over a product’s shelf-life from a “bad: sample that will have a shorter shelf life. Criteria for separation between a “good” and “bad” product based upon the Pseudomonad’s numbers can be established. If one selects a count of 1,000 cfu/ml as the separation point: the Histogram shown in Figure 4 indicated at 12.5 hrs all samples with higher counts (in red) detected, while all the samples below 1,000 cfu/ml did not.

Results: Testing of Process Water for the presence of Pseudomonads
Eight different types of process water samples were found to be free of Pseudomonad’s after testing using PSE-B vials and CFC spread plates (data not shown).  Clean process water samples were then inoculated with individual isolates of Pseudomonad’s were used to generate a calibration curves for water, similar to the milk calibration curve. Pseudomonad growth in inoculated process water was measured using PSE-B vials and PA spread plates and was used to generate the Calibration Curve. Detecting vials were confirmed to contain Pseudomonas by the Oxydase test.

The data presented show equivalency between the BioLumix PSE-B vial and CFC (Pseudomonas agar) plates for the detection of Pseudomonad’s found in commercial milk samples and in inoculated process water samples.  PSE-B vials detected as little as 1-3 organisms (data not shown).
The number of organisms in commercial milk was found to increase over time at refrigerated temperatures and this agreed with a previously published report (Burdova et al 2002) showing the affect of storage temperature on milk shelf-life.
The BioLumix assay is completed in 18 hours and offers an advantage over spread plate methods for time to results and ease of calculation of cfu per gram of milk or water.  A single vial is all that is needed and thus both time and material costs are reduced.  Calibration Curves were easily generated for both milk and water sampling and can be used to generate a cfu/ml of sample in less than 1 day to yield an estimate of cfu/gram.

REFERENCE:  Burdova, O. et al (2002).  Bulletin Vet Med. Poland. 46:325-329. Hygiene of Pasteurized Milk Depending on Psychrotrophic Microorganisms.