Medical Marijuana Production: the need for Microbiological Testing

Medical Marijuana is derived from botanical material and is grown under specialized conditions.  microbiology testing of MarijuanaThese growth conditions may include increased air flow (fans and vortexes), increased humidity (hydroponics and pumps) and increased foot traffic in areas that frequently include forced overcrowding of plants.  An example of a indoor cultivation room with hydroponic growth buckets is shown in Figure 1.

The variety of room surfaces coupled with abundant water, movement of air using fans or blowers, and relatively high room temperatures creates an environment ripe for growth of contaminating microorganisms.  Molds present on plant material under these conditions can survive long periods of time and will carry-over into processed product as it leaves the production area and heads into the Medical Marijuana Dispensary.

microbiology testing of MarijuanaSome marijuana growers also use trays with standing water and thus there is opportunity for contaminants to grow and flourish in the non-circulating water.  As shown in Figure 2 the use of large trays and varying surfaces will likely allow for the opportunity for high numbers of microbial contaminants.  These contaminants are primarily molds and their presence can affect both the health of the marijuana plants and may pose a risk to the user’s health. Clearly in this type of environment there is amble opportunity for contaminants to grow.  Close microbiological monitoring of growing rooms and work area is needed and highly suggested. Similarly the final product should also be tested to show that it is free of microbial contamination and free of harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, S. aureus or E. coli.
BioLumix has recently performed an analysis of a production area for a Medicinal Marijuana Grower in the State of Michigan and found some interesting results.  Interesting in the sense that room cleanliness plays a role, not surprisingly in recovery of microorganisms. Sampling was performed at this medium sized grower who had both new and older rooms within their facility.  Thus, the supporting air flow, heating and watering systems being used varied from room to room.  BioLumix has a method for microbial sampling surfaces including metal, plastic and rubberized materials1.   A simple swab pattern is made across a surface to allow for collection of both bacterial and mold (fungal) organisms.

The swabs are then placed back into the sterile sleeve carrier that is provided, and placed into the appropriate buffer.  A series of dilutions can be made easily and tested in BioLumix vials.  The Table below summarizes the locations that were tested in marijuana production facility and the variability found in recovery of microorganisms within the same facility.  Total aerobic count levels (bacteria) and Yeast & Mold levels were monitored.  The testing levels included a level as low as 10 organisms per swab and as high as greater than 1000 organisms per swab.  A common cut-off for the Total Aerobic Counts is near 1000-5000 organisms.

microbiology testing results of Marijuana
These results showed that work areas within the same production facility can vary in recovery of microorganisms as much as 100 fold.  Monitoring of production area for molds primarily would allow growers to determine where and how much intervention is needed to reduce viable organism counts.  In addition to determining the “level” of mold in a facility that could impact the product used by patients; it is also critical to reduce the amount of mold contaminants affecting marijuana plant growth and viability.  It is not uncommon for rapid spread of mold on plants to occur and directly impact harvest efficiencies.  Thus, for the grower, having a sense of how “clean” their rooms are will be an advantage.  The presence of mold in higher levels might impact the yield from marijuana plants as well as impact the risk of introducing fungal organisms to the medical marijuana patient population.
Medical marijuana products may include the raw botanical product itself (flowers and buds) or a concentrated form (hashish, oil and tinctures).  Each of these materials can easily be tested on the BioLumix instrument by non-microbiologists, without the requirement for a full laboratory.  Testing may include the following assaysTotal Aerobic Bacterial Counts, Total Yeast & Mold Counts, for the presence of Coliforms, E coli, and other pathogens including Staphylococcus, Salmonella and Pseudomonas.  These tests can be performed in a simple work area as the instrument does not require a full micro laboratory.  The staff can easily be trained at the time of installation and do not require to be formally trained in the sciences.

  1. Reference 1.  Eden, R and R Brideau (2012) Validation of a Rapid System for Environmental Monitoring and Water Testing. In  “Environmental Monitoring – A Comprehensive Handbook”  Vol 6 Chapter 14 pages 241-266.  Editor. J Moldenhauer            PDA Bethesda, MD USA. DHI Publishing

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.

References
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.

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.

Summary
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.

Rapid Microbiology Testing of Dairy Products using the BioLumix Instrument

Background

Testing Dairy Products using Rapid Microbiology with the BioLumix InstrumentCommercial Dairy Products need to be tested for microbial contaminants.  Dairy products include: cultured dairy products (kefir, cultured buttermilk, sour cream, and yogurt), cheeses (soft cheese products, semi-hard, hard, and extra hard cheeses), processed cheeses, butters, butter creams, dried milks, and ice creams.

Manufacturers require a simple, cost effective and rapid microbiological method to assess samples for the presence of specific organisms as an indication of the sanitary conditions.  The most common dairy microbiology tests include: Aerobic plate count, Yeast and Molds, Coliforms, and could also include some indicator of cold spoilage such as Pseudomonads.  Rapid and early testing for microorganisms can reduce product quarantine time, allows for faster response to contamination, decreases inventory holding and cold warehouse costs, and aids in prediction of product shelf-life for manufacturers.

Troublesome spoilage microorganisms include aerobic Psychrotrophic bacteria, yeasts, molds, heterofermentative lactobacilli, and spore-forming bacteria (Ledenbach and Marshall 2009).  Psychrotrophic bacteria can produce large amounts of extracellular hydrolytic enzymes, and the extent of recontamination of pasteurized fluid milk products with these bacteria is a major determinant of the milk products shelf life. Fungal spoilage of dairy foods is manifested by the presence of a wide variety of metabolic by-products, causing off-odors and flavors, in addition to visible changes in either color or texture and may also cause gassing.

BioLumix has developed a simple rapid microbiological method for the detection of various groups of bacteria, yeasts and molds.  The system can make the microbiology testing simpler, faster and automated, saving manufacturers time, labor and money. BioLumix has a comprehensive range of microbiological tests, including specific vials for Coliforms and Pseudomonas.  The system is designed to accelerate product release in a simplified automated approach.  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.  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.

BioLumix Applications

Yogurt Testing

Yogurt is a dairy product, which is made by blending fermented milk with various ingredients that provide flavor and color.  Manufacturers have responded to the growth in the yogurt market by introducing many different types of yogurt including low fat and no-fat, creamy, bio-yogurt, organic, baby, and frozen.  BioLumix has developed assay methods for measuring contaminating microorganisms in dairy products.

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.

Coliform organisms generally include four key groups of enteric bacteria.  They comprise of the following species: Escherichia, Citrobacter, Klebsiella and Enterobacter.  Each of these organisms can grow in the BioLumix high pH CC vial.  Figure 2 illustrates the growth of a coliform (Citrobacter) in the BioLumix CC vial (green) while the Dark Blue curve shows a clean sample.

A clear advantage of the BioLumix vial is that it can be used on the same work-day to yield data about the status of any contamination in dairy samples and thus enable the manufacturer to make a decision on the acceptability of the lot of product for sale and consumption.

Fermented Dairy Products

Yeast and Mold Testing: An example of the growth of a mold in cream cheese is shown below. Figure 3 illustrates the clean test result, using BioLumix Yeast & Mold vials, for the cream cheese product as shown in the Green curve.  The Dark Blue curve illustrates the growth curve in BioLumix YM vials when cream cheese was inoculated with the mold organism Geotrichum candidum.

Coliforms Testing:Similarly, testing of sour cream showed the lack of Coliforms in the product as illustrated in the Dark Blue curve in Figure 4.  The sour cream product sample was found to have other flora as shown by growth in the BioLumix TAC vial which detected total aerobic bacterial counts.  Thus, the BioLumix high pH CC vial was used to show selectivity for the presence or absence of Coliform organisms.

Rapid Detection of Pseudomonas in Dairy Products as an Indicator of Product Shelf-Life
Pseudomonad organisms are a major cause of bacterial spoilage of pasteurized milk and dairy products due to post process contamination.  Early detection of Pseudomonas in can be a predictor of product shelf-life as it is the predominant psychotropic bacteria present.  BioLumix has developed a rapid method for the detection of Pseudomonads in dairy products; the method is also applicable to detection of Pseudomonads in process water.

The BioLumix system was directly compared to the plate count methodology for milk samples stored at refrigerated temperatures and held overnight at room temperatures and to detected Pseudomonads in process water and other dairy products.

Commercial milk products were used to measure the presence of Pseudomonads during refrigerated and elevated temperature storage.  Pseudomonads were present at varying levels in dairy samples and were detected within 16-24 hours using BioLumix vials.  All process water samples tested were free of Pseudomonads by both methods.  Process water samples inoculated with different Pseudomonads strains were found to detect in the BioLumix system.  The vial were selective enough not allowing for growth of unrelated gram positive and gram negative bacteria, mold or yeast.  The combination of the Pseudomonas vial with overnight pre-incubation could serve as an indicator of shelf-life of products.

The data in this study suggests that the BioLumix Pseudomonas vials are capable of early detection of Pseudomonads in dairy products and in processing water. The system offers a reduction in time to results as compared to the plate methodology and eliminates any product interference.  It allows for rapid assessment of problems associated post processing problems.

BioLumix has developed a vial specific for testing of Pseudomonads that are known to commonly contaminate milk and also survive pasteurization, albeit in low numbers. These Pseudomonads may include P aeruginosa, P fluorescens, P putida, and P stutzeri.  Each of these species of pseudomonas was found to grow readily in the BioLumix PSE-B vials.

Summary

The BioLumix System is designed to accelerate product release with a simplified, automated approach.  This yields fast, accurate, real-time results while reducing costs and eliminates the time required for the assays to be completed.  The system offers real-time results of contaminated samples saving hours, possibly days.  The Coliform or Enterobacteriaceae results can be available within 12 hours; Yeast and Mold results within 48 hours.  Thus the BioLumix system allows for rapid detection of Coliforms and Yeast and mold.  For low coliform numbers, one vial can substitute for 9+ MPN tubes.  BioLumix will streamline and simplify the microbiological procedures, save labor and create a paperless laboratory, while generating results that correlate well with plate count methodology.

Reference
Ledenbach L. H. and R.T. Marshall. 2009 In “Compendium of the Microbiological Spoilage of Foods and Beverages” . Chapter Microbiological Spoilage of Dairy Products.

BioLumix Microbial Limit Vial (MC)

Introduction:

The Microbial Limit vial is used to test primarily Personal Care, Cosmetic and over the counter Pharmaceutical (OTC) products for microbial content (contamination). Each of these types of products may have preservatives in their composition and the Microbial Limit vial helps to neutralize the inhibition of microbial growth that many preservatives provide. Neutralization of the preservative allows for a proper evaluation of whetheror not the product has contaminants. Often the contaminating bacteria in the product while in the presence of the preservative remain “injured” and unable to replicate. Thelack of replication might be interpreted as the lack of contamination.

How It Works

The Microbial Limit vial’s sensor detects production of CO2 by microorganisms, based upon the principle that CO2 is a universal metabolite produced by all microorganisms. The disposable vial contains a transparent solid sensor located at the bottom which changes its optical properties whenever CO2 diffuses into it. Only gases can penetrate the sensor; blocking liquids, microorganisms, and particulate matter. Consequently, the optical readings are not masked by the sample. CO2 generated by bacterial metabolism in the liquid medium diffuses into the sensor and interacts with an indicator reagent to provide an indication of the presence of the carbon dioxide.

Applications:

The Microbial Limit vial is used to test primarily Personal Care, Cosmetic and over the counter Pharmaceutical (OTC) products for microbial content (contamination). Each of these types of products may have preservatives in their composition and the Microbial Limit vial helps to neutralize the inhibition of microbial growth that many preservatives provide. Neutralization of the preservative allows for a proper evaluation of whether or not the product has contaminants. Often the contaminating bacteria in the product while in the presence of the preservative remain “injured” and unable to replicate. The lack of replication might be interpreted as the lack of contamination.

The first step of the assay is to perform a 1:10 dilution of the product in neutralizing broth such as D/E (Dey/Engley) broth, Letheen Broth, or TAT (Tryptone-Azolectin-Tween) Broth. There after 1.0-0.1 ml of the sample is added to the Microbial Limit vial. The Microbial Limit vial contains the neutralizers that inhibit many common preservatives and this neutralization event helps the customer to correctly measure the presence of contaminating organisms.

Examples of Growth Curves Using the Microbial Limit Vial:

In the curves shown below in the Figure, there is an example of both a positive curve and a negative curve. The bacterium used was Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

The BioLumix Microbial Limit vial was specifically designed to be used in complying with USP. Due to the fact the Microbial Limit vial has both Lecithin and Tween in its media composition helps allow for neutralization of the preservative in the sample to be maintained during the assay for viable organisms. Thus, this vial is useful to the customer that has already determined the amount of neutralizing buffer and its content of neutralizer to be used when the product sample is first prepared in diluent. Together the use of the correct neutralizer and the use of the BioLumix Microbial Limit vial helps ensure an accurate assay for the replicating organisms.

Table 1 summarizes the types of Products that customers test in the BioLumix Microbial Limit vial to measure the presence of organisms.

Summary:

The versatility of the BioLumix Microbial Limit vial includes the ability to support growth of most aerobic bacteria, many yeast and some mold organisms. In most cases YMC vial is used for the detection of yeast and molds. The BioLumix Microbial Limit vial can be used for determination of microbial content (contamination), for use in suitability studies that test whether a product can support growth of microorganisms, and in Preservative Efficacy Studies (PET analysis) that is used for cosmetic products. The BioLumix Microbial Limit vial can also be used by customers whose products include Dietary Supplements and Nutraceutical products for which preservatives (natural or chemical) are also added. Supplement products with natural preservatives also need to be neutralized and tested for their ability to support microbial growth.

BioLumix Staphylococcus aureus Vial Assay

Organism of Interest

Staphylococcus aureus is a major pathogen of concern in infectious disease. This organism group may include drug resistant S. aureus, often defined as methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). S. aureus is also an objectionable organism for the dietary supplement and nutraceutical industries.

Backgroud

Wikipedia’s description is as follows: S. aureus can cause a range of illnesses fromminor skin infections, such as pimples, impetigo, boils (furuncles), cellulitis folliculitis,carbuncles, scalded skin syndrome, and abscesses, to life-threatening diseases suchas pneumonia, meningitis, osteomyelitis, endocarditis, toxic shock syndrome (TSS),bacteremia, and sepsis. It is implicated in skin, soft tissue, respiratory, bone, joint,endovascular and wound infections. It is still one of the five most common causes ofnosocomial infections, often causing postsurgical wound infections. Each year, some 500,000 patients in American hospitals contract a staphylococcal infection.

Methicillin-resistant S. aureus, abbreviated MRSA and often pronounced “mer-sa” (in North America), is one of a number of greatly-feared strainsof S. aureus which have become resistant to most antibiotics. MRSA strains are most often found associated with institutions such as hospitals, but are becoming increasingly prevalent in community-acquired infections. Arecent study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute showed that nearly half (47%) of the meat and poultry in U.S. grocery stores were contaminated with S. aureus, withmore than half (52%) of those bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

Current Methodology for S. aureus

Nutraceutical and Dietary Supplement Products: USP <1222> describes the methodrequired to test for the absence of S. aureus (typically in 10 grams) in nutraceutical and dietary supplement products. The method involves mixing of the sample in TSB and pre-incubating the TSB containing product at 30 to 35 degrees for 18 to 24 hours. Followed by streaking a loopful from TSB onto the surface of one or more of the following media:Vogel–Johnson Agar Medium (VJ Agar), Mannitol–Salt–Agar Medium (MS-Agar),and Baird-Parker Agar Medium (BP Agar). If no plates contain colonies having the characteristics described, the test specimen meets the requirement for the absence of Staphylococcus aureus. If characteristic colonies are present, a coagulase test is performed.

Pharmaceutical Products: USP <62> describes a similar method to test for the absence of S. aureus. After the pre-incubation in TSB, Mannitol–Salt–Agar Medium isused for plating.

Food Testing: FDA Bacteriological Analytical Manual (BAM) describes several methods for testing of S. aureus in foods. Methods used to detect and enumerate S. aureus maybe dependent for testing of foods and on the past history of the test material. Processed foods may contain relatively small numbers of debilitated viable cells, whose presence must be demonstrated by appropriate means. Finding food contaminated with S. aureusmay lead to legal action against the party or parties responsible for a contaminated food product. For S. aureus specified levels > 100 cfu/g of S. aureus plating on Baird-Parker agar is recommended. The method involves spreading 1.0 ml on 3 plates and looking for typical colonies. At least 20 colonies must be present on the lowest dilution for reliable results. Typical colonies need to be tested for coagulase. The most probable number (MPN) method is recommended for products in which small numbers of S.aureus are expected to be low and in foods expected to contain a large population of competing species. MPN can be performed in TSB containing 10% NaCl and 1% sodium pyruvate. From each tube showing growth (turbidity) a loopful is transferred to a plate of Baird-Parker medium.

The BioLumix Methodology

Pre-Incubation step Objectionable organisms including S. aureus may be present in very low numbers andmay also be “damaged”. Recovery of these organisms may require growth enrichmentin simple broth media prior to testing in selective media. Enrichment in a media suchas Trypticase soy broth (TSB) is often used as the first step in testing for the presenceor absence of S aureus. In testing of dietary supplement and pharmaceutical samples,enrichment occurs for approximately 18-20 hours. This step is similar to the procedure recommended by USP <1222> and USP <62>. After the pre-incubation in TSB a small amount (0.1 ml, typically) is transferred into the selective media BioLumix STA Vial and inserted into the instrument for 22 hours.

BioLumix Staph Vial Selectivity
The BioLumix STA vial utilizes a combination of inhibitors. These inhibitors target both unrelated organisms such as gram negatives and unrelated gram positives. Theuse of specific carbon sources (Mannitol) to selectively permit growth of primarily only staphylococcal species is also used. In addition, high salt concentrations also inhibitnon-S. aureus organisms including gram negatives and other gram positives. The goal is to slow or inhibit growth of these unrelated organisms including the inhibition of aclosely related organism Staphylococcus epidermidis in this BioLumix media vial.
Growth in the BioLumix STA Vial
A representative BioLumix STA Vial showing growth of S. aureus is shown in the accompanying Figure. The presence of S. aureus causes a detection time (DT) in thecurve (shown as a blue triangle). The figure also includes an un-related organism (Ecoli) tested under the same growth conditions in the BioLumix STA Vial.
Assay Endpoint
If there is no growth and no DT the sample is negative and does notcontain S. aureus. Growth in the
BioLumix STA Vial presumes the presence of S aureus. Confirmationusing a secondary test such ascoagulase is required to verify the presence of S aureus. The coagulase test can be performed directly from the vial.

Organism of Interest

Staphylococcus aureus is a major pathogen of concern in infectious disease. This organism group may include drug resistant S. aureus, often defined as methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). S. aureus is also an objectionable organism for the dietary supplement and nutraceutical industries.

Backgroud

Wikipedia’s description is as follows: S. aureus can cause a range of illnesses fromminor skin infections, such as pimples, impetigo, boils (furuncles), cellulitis folliculitis,carbuncles, scalded skin syndrome, and abscesses, to life-threatening diseases suchas pneumonia, meningitis, osteomyelitis, endocarditis, toxic shock syndrome (TSS),bacteremia, and sepsis. It is implicated in skin, soft tissue, respiratory, bone, joint,endovascular and wound infections. It is still one of the five most common causes ofnosocomial infections, often causing postsurgical wound infections. Each year, some 500,000 patients in American hospitals contract a staphylococcal infection.

Methicillin-resistant S. aureus, abbreviated MRSA and often pronounced “mer-sa” (in North America), is one of a number of greatly-feared strainsof S. aureus which have become resistant to most antibiotics. MRSA strains are most often found associated with institutions such as hospitals, but are becoming increasingly prevalent in community-acquired infections. Arecent study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute showed that nearly half (47%) of the meat and poultry in U.S. grocery stores were contaminated with S. aureus, withmore than half (52%) of those bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

Current Methodology for S. aureus

Nutraceutical and Dietary Supplement Products: USP <1222> describes the methodrequired to test for the absence of S. aureus (typically in 10 grams) in nutraceutical and dietary supplement products. The method involves mixing of the sample in TSB and pre-incubating the TSB containing product at 30 to 35 degrees for 18 to 24 hours. Followed by streaking a loopful from TSB onto the surface of one or more of the following media:Vogel–Johnson Agar Medium (VJ Agar), Mannitol–Salt–Agar Medium (MS-Agar),and Baird-Parker Agar Medium (BP Agar). If no plates contain colonies having the characteristics described, the test specimen meets the requirement for the absence of Staphylococcus aureus. If characteristic colonies are present, a coagulase test is performed.

Pharmaceutical Products: USP <62> describes a similar method to test for the absence of S. aureus. After the pre-incubation in TSB, Mannitol–Salt–Agar Medium isused for plating.

Food Testing: FDA Bacteriological Analytical Manual (BAM) describes several methods for testing of S. aureus in foods. Methods used to detect and enumerate S. aureus maybe dependent for testing of foods and on the past history of the test material. Processed foods may contain relatively small numbers of debilitated viable cells, whose presence must be demonstrated by appropriate means. Finding food contaminated with S. aureusmay lead to legal action against the party or parties responsible for a contaminated food product. For S. aureus specified levels > 100 cfu/g of S. aureus plating on Baird-Parker agar is recommended. The method involves spreading 1.0 ml on 3 plates and looking for typical colonies. At least 20 colonies must be present on the lowest dilution for reliable results. Typical colonies need to be tested for coagulase. The most probable number (MPN) method is recommended for products in which small numbers of S.aureus are expected to be low and in foods expected to contain a large population of competing species. MPN can be performed in TSB containing 10% NaCl and 1% sodium pyruvate. From each tube showing growth (turbidity) a loopful is transferred to a plate of Baird-Parker medium.

The BioLumix Methodology

Pre-Incubation step Objectionable organisms including S. aureus may be present in very low numbers andmay also be “damaged”. Recovery of these organisms may require growth enrichmentin simple broth media prior to testing in selective media. Enrichment in a media suchas Trypticase soy broth (TSB) is often used as the first step in testing for the presenceor absence of S aureus. In testing of dietary supplement and pharmaceutical samples,enrichment occurs for approximately 18-20 hours. This step is similar to the procedure recommended by USP <1222> and USP <62>. After the pre-incubation in TSB a small amount (0.1 ml, typically) is transferred into the selective media BioLumix STA Vial and inserted into the instrument for 22 hours.

BioLumix Staph Vial SelectivityThe BioLumix STA vial utilizes a combination of inhibitors. These inhibitors target both unrelated organisms such as gram negatives and unrelated gram positives. Theuse of specific carbon sources (Mannitol) to selectively permit growth of primarily only staphylococcal species is also used. In addition, high salt concentrations also inhibitnon-S. aureus organisms including gram negatives and other gram positives. The goal is to slow or inhibit growth of these unrelated organisms including the inhibition of aclosely related organism Staphylococcus epidermidis in this BioLumix media vial.Growth in the BioLumix STA VialA representative BioLumix STA Vial showing growth of S. aureus is shown in the accompanying Figure. The presence of S. aureus causes a detection time (DT) in thecurve (shown as a blue triangle). The figure also includes an un-related organism (Ecoli) tested under the same growth conditions in the BioLumix STA Vial.Assay EndpointIf there is no growth and no DT the sample is negative and does notcontain S. aureus. Growth in theBioLumix STA Vial presumes the presence of S aureus. Confirmationusing a secondary test such ascoagulase is required to verify the presence of S aureus. The coagulase test can be performed directly from the vial.

Confirmation Testing of Presumptive Positive Assays Using the BioLumix System

In Microbiology, the initial test result using selective or differential media is called Presumptive Test. Most presumptive tests require confirmation. Confirmation can be accomplished using specific reagents and materials. However, due to the critical importance of testing for pathogens and/or objectionable organisms as contaminants; it may be necessary to perform identification of any organisms isolated from samples. Identification measures microorganisms to the species level.

Initial Testing

For testing of any sample for the presence of microorganisms it is critical to perform a measure of total organism counts (viable organisms). BioLumix provides testing for both Total Aerobic Counts (Bacteria) and for Total Yeast and Mold Counts (Fungi). The BioLumix system in this regard mimics testing for both bacteria and fungi using USP or BAM plate methodology. In these initial tests for total counts there isn’t any discrimination of objectionable organisms from common organisms and common flora. Objectionable organisms for Nutraceutical Samples as an example may include E coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella or Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Use of Selective Media

For most samples, it will be necessary to test for at least some objectionable organisms. In order to perform tests for each specific objectionable organism it is necessary to use selective media specifically designed to select for the target organisms. For example, for E coli testing, it is necessary to use selective media that contains both inhibitors that prevent the growth of non-E coli organisms and substrates that can utilized by E coli and not by most other microorganisms. BioLumix make use of such a media, referred to as the EC vial.

Confirmation Test

Unique confirmation tests that can be performed directly from the vials are described for the various objectionable organisms.

E. Coli- Indole Test

For samples that grow and detect in the BioLumix system, a series of Confirmation Tests can be utilized to begin the process of understanding whether the organism(s) are genuine E coli or not. For E coli testing a common initial confirmation test is the Indole Test using the Kovacs reagent. The Indole Test measures the presence of any indole in the growth media as a by-product of tryptophan metabolism by E. coli. Figure 1 depicts a negative (yellow ring) and positive Kovacs Reaction (Red ring) at the top of the media in the test vial.

Staphylococcus aureus – Coagulase Test

The BioLumix vial for testing for the presence of Staphylococcus aureus contains inhibitors of non-Staphylococcus organisms and substrates, such as mannitol as the sole carbon source used by S aureus. If growth is found in the BioLumix STA vial, the analyst can begin to confirm the presence or absence of S. aureus, directly from the vial, using the classic coagulase tests. The coagulase test that has been used for decades uses a known antisera specific for S. aureus epitopes. When S aureus is present, the antiserum reacts with the specific epitopes and forms a lattice of antibody-antigen, and the material coagulates within hours. Figure 2 illustrates the coagulase positive (upper tube) and negative (lower tube) reaction.

Pseudomonas aeruginosa- Oxidase Test

The BioLumix vial for testing for the presence or absence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa contains inhibitors such as Centrimide to prevent the growth of non-pseudomonads and substrates for use by P. aeruginosa. If growth is found in the BioLumix PSE vial, the analyst can begin to confirm the presence or absence of P. aeruginosa using the classic oxidase test. When P. aeruginosa is present, the oxidase test strip reacts with the centrifuged precipitate material (bacterium) and yields a rapid dark blue reaction. This reaction is based on the presence of certain cytochrome oxidase that are found intracellularly in the P. aeruginosa.Figure 3 illustrates the positive oxidase color test ( + ) from the negative reaction ( – ).

Salmonella- Immunoassay Strip

The BioLumix vial for testing for the presence of Salmonella contains inhibitors of non-salmonella bacteria and substrates utilized by Salmonella. If growth is found in the BioLumix SAL vial; the analyst can begin to confirm the presence of absence of Salmonella using commercially available test kits that typically make use of Immunological reactive endpoints. One such kit is shown in the cartoon (Figure 4) and depicts immuno-reactive bands on a test strip.

Identification

Any negative confirmation assay indicates that the target organism is absent and the result is negative. However, in the rare occasions that the vial shows growth and the confirmation assay is positive, it does not necessarily mean that an objectionable organism is present. In these situations further identification of the growing organism might be required. The growing organism could be isolated on selective or non-selective medium and identified by any appropriate identification system.

Microbiological testing of OILS

Edible oils are an important part of the dietary supplement industry. Oils are also used extensively in cosmetics and of course, hydrocarbon based oils, are used in heavy machinery.

Oil is any substance that is liquid at ambient temperatures and does not mix with water but may mix with other oils and organic solvents. This general definition includes plant (vegetable) oils, fish or animal derived oils, volatile essential oils, petrochemical oils, and synthetic oils. Plant derived oils are used frequently in the Dietary Supplement industry and may include examples such as Flax and Sunflower oils. Fish derived oils may include the infamous Cod Liver Oil and Krill (omega 3) oils. Essential oils are generally aromatic oils and are extracted by distillation. They are used in perfumes, cosmetics, soaps and other personal care products, and occasionally for flavoring food and drink. Petrochemical oils include crude oils as an example and are naturally occurring, flammable liquids consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of various molecular weights, and other liquid organic compounds. Synthetic oils are lubricants consisting of chemical compounds that are artificially made (synthesized). Many are very similar in function to hydrocarbon based motor oils.

Plant and fish-derived oil based products are common in the dietary supplement industry and are most commonly tested in the form of liquids, soft-gels, and capsules. Cosmetic oil based-products may be in the form of creams, lotions, washes, to name a few. Oils used in products for the dietary supplement industry and in cosmetics will require testing for the presence of microorganisms.

Problems Associated with Microbial Testing of Oils


Oils can be difficult to handle due to their hydrophobic composition. An example of an oil micelle (oil present in aqueous solutions) is represented in the cartoon shown in Figure 1.

For sampling of oils for the presence of microorganisms (microbial content), it is generally necessary to first dilute the oil material 1/10 into an aqueous buffer. The material can then be mixed thoroughly (mechanically or by hand) followed by a series of decimal dilutions. Due to the lack of mixing of oil and water it is difficult to remove the organisms from micelles and transfer them to the diluent prior to making the decimal dilution and to disperse them evenly in the agar medium, all steps required for the plate count method.

The BioLumix Advantage

The BioLumix system is based upon detection of color or fluorescence variations due to microbial metabolism in liquid medium within a novel two-zone test vial. An optical sensor monitors changes in color and fluorescence within the vial’s reading zone, which is physically separated from the incubation zone. This two-zone approach prevents masking of the optical pathway by product or microbial turbidity and therefore, eliminates product interference. Separate test vials are also used to automatically detect the presence of viable microorganisms and/or to estimate the concentration of viable counts by monitoring changes in CO2 production during cellular growth.

For the BioLumix assay, oil materials diluted into TSB (1/10) and can either be used directly or pre-enriched overnight to gain sensitivity. The diluted sample is added into BioLumix vials containing broth media. A variety of vials are available to conduct any necessary assay. After the inoculation of the vials, they are inserted into the instrument that serves as an incubator and a reader. The inoculated vials are analyzed every 6 minutes and the end results are reported in an automated certificate of analysis. Most assays are completed overnight and all the results are available in 48 hours.

Results Obtained Using The BioLumix System

Table 1 includes examples of oil-containing products successfully tested using the BioLumix method including plant derived, fish derived, cosmetic oils, essential oils, industrial and synthetic oils.

TABLE 1- Types of oil tested

Plant Derived Fish Oil Cosmetic/Essential Oils Industrial/Synthetic
Flax Krill Oil Facial soaps/lotions Motor Oil
Safflower Cod Liver Oil Body (massage) VITE (dl-alpha-tocopherol)
Sunflower Omega 3 Oil Suppositories
Soybean Vitamin E Lotions
Sesame Primrose Oil

Figure 2

The clean product yields a flat curve whereas products that contain bacteria show an increase in the optical curves allowing the system to detect the presence of the microorganisms.

Similar results were obtained with motor oil (Figure 3).

The data indicates that the system works very well in distinguishing between contaminated and clean samples. It can be also used to determine the level of contamination.

High precision or repeatability was obtained for all samples tested. The BioLumix system can be used to detect the presence or absence of organisms. Assays include Total Aerobic Count, Yeast and Mold, Enterobacterial count and absence of objectionable organisms in 10 grams of product, such as E. coli, S. aureus, and Salmonella. The system is designed to speed up product release and simplify the microbiological testing of oil containing products, generating an automated certificate of analysis for all assays in 48 hours.

Rapid Coliform, Yeast and Mold Testing of Yogurt

Testing of Yogurt and Other Dairy Products

Yogurt is a dairy product, which is made by blending fermented milk with various ingredients that provide flavor and color.  Manufacturers have responded to the growth in the yogurt market by introducing many different types of yogurt including low fat and no-fat, creamy, bio-yogurt, organic, baby, and frozen.  The popularity of yogurt has increased due to its perceived health benefit resulting in significant increase in consumption (Chandan et. al 2006) as shown in Figure.

Recently Reuters reported that Dannon, the world’s largest yogurt maker, announced that it expects annual double digit percentage dairy sales growth in the United States over the long term.

Microbiological Testing of Yogurt

Undesirable microorganisms constitute the primary hazard to safety, quality, and wholesomeness of milk and dairy foods.   The primary assays performed in yogurt are yeast and mold (requiring up to 7 days for results) and the coliform assay that is used as an indication of appropriate processing. Traditional methods are slow, tedious, labor intensive, and often not suitable for assessing the quality and shelf-life of perishable dairy products. 

 The emphasis on the programs based on HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) for total quality management in the dairy industry and increased demand for microbiological surveillance of products, process, and environment have led to increased interest in rapid methods and automation in microbiology.

BioLumix technology can make the microbiological testing simpler, faster, and automated.  Saving time, labor and money. 

The BioLumix test method for detection of coliform and yeast & molds involves a direct addition of the sample into ready to use vials and automated monitoring of the samples in the instrument.  The coliform assay is completed in 12 hours, while most contaminated samples are flagged within a typical shift.  The yeast & molds assay is completed in 48 hours as compared to the 5 days required for the standard assay.

The ready–to-use vials come with media that is pre-adjusted for pH, such that after the addition of the sample the appropriate pH for the growth of the microorganisms is attained.  BioLumix has developed such a media that is custom made with a higher pH to accommodate the low pH of yogurt while still maintaining the capability to test as much as 1.0 gram of product directly in the vials.    

Coliform Assay:

The curves obtained by the addition of 1.0 gram of yogurt to a high pH vial (pH 8.2) of coliform are shown:

The Dark Blue curve shows the 1.0 gram sample.  All product interference has been eliminated as depicted by the flat part of the curve.  The Green Curve illustrates a yogurt sample inoculated with a coliform.




In North America, BioLumix has tested yogurt samples manufactured by a number of companies.  The Table below includes a series of products from one such company Yoplait, Ontario, Canada.  These samples include low fat and regular varieties. 

Lemon Cream Pie Light Fat Free
Key Lime Pie Original 99% Fat Free
Strawberry Shortcake Light Fat Free
Raspberry Mousse Whips
Strawberry Thick & Creamy Low Fat
Key Lime Pie Original
Delights Parfait Chocolate Raspberry

All un-inoculated products resulted in flat curves as seen in the Figure.  Product interference was not found.

All products tested were shown to be clean (<1 coliform/ gram).  All inoculated products detected in the system in less than 8 hours.

Yeast and Mold Assay:
Similar results were obtained for yeast and molds. The curves show the results obtained with a variety of yogurt products.

Fieldberry Stirred Yogurt Dark blue
Raspberry Stirred Yogurt Green
Raspberry Stirred Yogurt-inoc CAD L- blue
Yoplait Mingo Red
Yoplait Mingo-inoc ASP Purple
Tubes- Raspberry Yellow
Tubes- Grapes Tan
Irresistible Creamy yogurt Vanilla Dark green

The inoculated samples (light blue- inoculated with Candida albicans; purple inoculated with Aspergillus niger) detected in less than 24 hours.  All the un-inoculated samples were clean and did not detect in the vials.  A total of 50 different yogurts were tested using this method and the data showed that all the samples that contained either yeast or mold detected in the system and none of the clean samples detected.  The plate count results agreed 100% with the BioLumix vial results.

Conclusion:

The BioLumix system is designed to accelerate product release with a simplified, automated approach. This yields fast, accurate, real-time results while reducing costs. The BioLumix offers real-time results of contaminated samples saving hours, possibly days. Completed Coliform or Enterobacteriaceae results are obtained within 12 hours; Yeast and Mold results are obtained within 48 hours.

References:

R.C. Chandan, C.H. White, A. Kilara, and Y.H. Hui. 2006. in Manufacturing Yogurt and Fermented Milks. Blackwell Publishing.

Medical Marijuana Testing: Automated, Rapid Microbiology


Medical cannabis (also referred to as medical marijuana) is the use of cannabis and its constituent cannabinoids such as THC as a physician-recommended form of medicine or herbal therapy. The Cannabis plant from which the cannabis drug is derived has a long history of medicinal use.  While cannabis for recreational use is illegal in most parts of the world, its use as a medicine is legal in a number of territories, including Canada, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Israel, Italy, Finland, and Portugal. In the United States, federal law outlaws all cannabis use, while permission for medical cannabis varies among states. (wikipedia)

One state that has established a Medical Marijuana Program is California.  The Medical Marijuana Program (MMP) was established to provide a voluntary medical marijuana identification card issuance and registry program for qualified patients and their caregivers.  The web-based registry system allows law enforcement and the public to verify the validity of qualified patient or caregiver’s card.  To facilitate the verification of authorized cardholders, the verification database is available on the internet at www.calmmp.ca.gov.


A potential contaminant hazard that can be found in the marijuana plants includes bacterial or fungal infections produced by careless cultivation techniques. A majority of the several hundred organisms associated with marijuana are strictly plant pathogens that cannot infect humans. A much smaller number of plant pathogens are also found in cannabis that has been improperly dried or stored. Some of these organisms may infect immune-suppressed individuals and become human pathogens. Also, a small handful of human pathogens have been isolated from samples of poor quality marijuana. These contaminants are highly infectious and potentially toxic (ref McPartland, “Microbiological contaminants of marijuana.” Vermont Alternative Medicine, 1994. and ref McPartland, J.M., 1994. “Microbiological contaminants of marijuana”. Journal of the International Hemp Association 1: 41-44).

One microbiological contaminant is Aspergillus.  It is sometimes found in poorly prepared and poorly-stored marijuana.  Early microbiological testing of marijuana for the presence of mold organisms has been studied (ref Levitz SM, Diamond RD, October 1991, “ Aspergillosis and marijuana” Annals of Internal Medicine 115 (7): 578–9.and ref. Verweij P., et al December 2000 “Fungal contamination of tobacco and marijuana”  Journal of the Amer Med Assoc 284 (22): p2875).  Not surprisingly, with the growth of suppliers and the relative “non-regulation” of this industry as compared to Pharma, there is an urgent need for clean (microbiologically) material.

BioLumix microbiologists have now established methods for testing Medicinal Marijuana for the presence of microbial contaminants.  This includes direct testing of medicinal marijuana products for the presence of bacteria, yeast or molds.  The types of medicinal marijuana products tested include flowers (buds), trim (stems and seeds), concentrate (hash-like material), marijuana butter, tinctures, and capsules made from processed concentrate. 


BioLumix microbiologists have collaborated with Chemists involved in this industry and have successfully tested Medicinal Marijuana from California.  Similar to other botanical materials, there was a range of contaminants found in the raw product material. 

The degree of processing and the amount of moisture in the marijuana raw material has an impact on the overall level of contaminants.  Bacteria are known to survive longer on botanical materials that have higher moisture content.  As with other botanical products, the use of natural fertilizers may also impact the recovery of contaminants.  The Werc Shop www.TheWercShop.com, one of the existing BioLumix customers is making use of this technology daily to measure for the presence of bacteria, molds or yeast for nearly 100 Medicinal Marijuana Growers or Dispensaries.  This has enabled The Werc Shop to quickly and accurately separate growers (suppliers) with the cleanest product from those having poorer quality (contaminated) product.  Ultimately, the consumer benefits from having clean Medicinal Marijuana.  

The automated BioLumix offers fast, accurate results in a compact ready-to-use system that is easy enough to be operated by non-microbiologists.  Due to the nature of the short shelf life associated with Medical Marijuana the BioLumix system is ideal for evaluating its quality.