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28th February 2023 Content supplied by: Merck
A Revolution in the Preparation of Enrichment Culture Media for Food Testing
Based on observations made in the beverages industry, the new ReadyStream® system is set to change forever how we prepare enrichment media for regulatory-compliant microbial testing of food samples.
For decades, obtaining pre-enrichment media for food pathogen testing didn’t change much: they were either prepared in-house by filling, mixing, and autoclaving the media components or purchased as ready-to-use media, with both of these approaches having advantages but also significant drawbacks and limitations.
In-house media preparation is resource-intensive, requiring considerable time and manual work for mixing, filling, and cleaning. Energy and water consumption is high. In addition, equipment such as autoclaves or media preparators requires a lot of maintenance.
Ready-to-use media have different challenges, as they are typically only provided in sizes that require a large number of heavy media bags to be handled and carried, which can be cumbersome and exhausting for operators. If the testing method requires pre-heated media, the ready-to-use media need to be pre-warmed in an incubator before use, a further handling step. The smaller package sizes of ready-to-use media also considerably increase waste and make it harder to meet sustainability goals.
The new ReadyStream® system addresses these pain points and limitations. It is a great example of how transferring an approach from one application to a different one can create true innovations: the ReadyStream® system prepares media almost like fruit juices, or soft drinks are diluted out of their respective juice or soft drink concentrates. A pre-irradiated bag filled with granulated dehydrated culture media is reconstituted with DI-water filtered through a 0.22 µm sterile filter attached to the system. This creates a 10x concentrated media stock solution that keeps for several days. Whenever liquid media is needed for testing, the push of a button on the ReadyStream® system dilutes the needed amount of this stock solution with additional sterile filtered water and conveniently dispenses the resulting media at the desired concentration (from 0.1 to 2.0x) directly onto the food sample. Installing the ReadyStream® filter set and media bag and reconstituting the media takes less than 20 minutes. When this is done, the 10x concentrate allows large media volumes of up to 100 liters with just one bag to be prepared and immediately dispensed, so there’s no need for cumbersome organizing, handling and carrying of one heavy ready-to-use media bag after the other: a single ReadyStream® bag creates the same volume of medium as ten unconcentrated, ready-to-use bags of the same size, consequently also reducing waste. Moreover, the ReadyStream® system is able to pre-heat the media (maximum 42 °C), so there is no need for pre-heating in an incubator.
Comparing the ReadyStream® workflow with traditional in-house media preparation, the revolutionary new system eliminates the cumbersome and time-consuming manual work steps of mixing, filling, autoclaving, and cleaning. Moreover, analyses have shown that it can also reduce water and energy consumption significantly.
To ensure consumer health and safety, the food and beverage industry is highly regulated. In such environments, changing and innovating workflows and procedures are sometimes slower and considered more difficult than in less regulated environments. The ReadyStream® system, which is compliant with all relevant regulations (ISO 11133 and others), is a great example of how regulated workflows can be innovated substantially, thereby improving operators’ work routines and the overall workflow efficiency and sustainability of handling liquid culture media. The ReadyStream® example also demonstrates how “thinking outside the box” and imitating how other industries handle similar issues—in this case reconstituting fruit juice concentrate—can truly facilitate innovations and change workflows for the better.
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Date Published: 28th February 2023
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