Medical Wire Equipment Co Ltd

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7th June 2011  Content supplied by: Medical Wire & Equipment Co

The Lurking Menace! Products for Detection of Foodborne Pathogens

The current, and very dramatic outbreak of E. coli O104 in Germany reminds us all of the need for great vigilance in food hygiene, particularly for those with responsibility for production and delivery of food that is safe for the consumer. Challenges can come not only from known pathogens, but recent years have seen the sudden emergence of previously unknown strains with tragic lethal outcomes for consumers, while for producers and suppliers the consequences can be legally and economically disastrous.

Food handling and processing environments, together with food contact surfaces such as blades, mixers, benches, and conveyor belts are common vectors for the spread of pathogens, so rigorous validated cleaning procedures are essential to prevent contamination. To ensure cleaning continues to be effective, all cleaned surfaces must be regularly sampled and tested to ensure microbial levels are within acceptable limits and that dangerous pathogens are not present at all.

Medical Wire has a number of products to help with this task.

NRS II Transwabs

NRS II Transwabs® are sampling swabs premoistened with a neutralising solutions. Surfaces which have been recently cleaned may still have traces of antimicrobial substances, such as disinfectants which would kill any bacteria picked up in a sample, and so prevent them being detected. The neutralisers in NRS II cancel these antimicrobial activities, allowing the microbes present to survive and be detected.

NRS II Transwabs® are supplied with a choice of accurate fill volumes to allow quantitative measurements of the environmental bioburden, so that any changes or trends can be quickly identified. The collected samples can also be tested for particular pathogens.


Polywipes™ are premoistened blue sponge swabs that allow the sampling of larger areas, such as machines, conveyor belts, floors and walls. The sponges are premoistened with a phosphate buffer that also effectively neutralises trace antimicrobials, this time by rapid dilution.

By regularly swabbing on defined areas and quantifying the microbial load, changes or trends can be monitored and responded to. Pathogens can also be detected if present. Polywipes™ have also been used in clinical environments for the detection of reservoirs of healthcare associated pathogens such as Clostridium difficile.

Coliform Isolation Transwab

Medical Wire also has some swab products for the detection of particular pathogens such as coliforms. The Coliform Isolation Transwab® will detect coliforms including E. coli on surfaces, and is an effective way of monitoring personal hygiene in food manufacturing premises.

For example door handles can be swabbed. The swab is placed in the purple medium which is then incubated overnight (or up to 24 hours). Any coliforms present will multiply, causing the medium to turn yellow. Other products are available for the detection of Listeria, and for general hygiene.

Product Details *

Product CodeDescription
MW729Polywipe™ Premoistened Sponge Swab in Peel Pouch
MW784NRS II Transwab with 10ml Neutralising Rinse Solution
MW503Coliform Isolation Transwab

* These are examples. Many more variants are available.

Full details of Medical Wires products for the food and pharma industries are available at

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Date Published: 7th June 2011

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