2008 Volume 25 Issue 3 Pages 120-126
In order to improve the throughput of microbiological testing of food samples in the food industry, systems that reduce the number of manual steps and labor required in the testing process are needed. TEMPO is an automated enumeration system comprising automated devices and a set of reagents for microbiological testing based on the most probable number (MPN) enumeration method. In this study, we compared TEMPO with the conventional culture methods for tests of total viable counts, coliforms and Escherichia coli using 5 food samples artificially contaminated with E. coli. Other 343 food samples without spiking for the comparison between both methods. Good correlation was observed for the measured parameters between TEMPO and each conventional culture method. The present method also greatly reduced the labor requirement and reduced volume of waste generated, while providing accountability in the entire testing process. Tests of 5 food samples spiked with E. coli showed correlation coefficients between TEMPO and conventional culture methods that were higher than 0.98. On the tests using non-spiked 343 food samples, number of samples whose difference between log value of each cfu/g of TEMPO and those of conventional culture method were within ±1 were checked. On TVC, 142 samples (94%) were in the range and 130 samples (95.6%) and 19 samples (100%) were in the range on TC and EC, respectively. For tests of total viable count, the labor requirement for TEMPO was about one-third that of the conventional culture method, and the amount of waste generated using TEMPO was about one-forth that of the conventional culture method.