1 February 2021 – Jae O. Haroldsen
When you think of a microbiology laboratory, you might think exclusively of human blood or tissue samples and tests looking for invading pathogens like those responsible for the coronavirus.
However, those are not the types of microbiology tests conducted here at CTLA. We test for harmful microbes or pathogens in foods, dietary supplements, and cosmetics as a prevention measure to ensure public consumption safety and health.
Soil, air, and/or water sources can easily contaminate foods with microorganisms. To protect consumers from foreign pathogens, both the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have developed task forces and guidelines to protect produce and meat supplies from containing harmful bacteria like E-coli or salmonella. Their guidelines include best practices to collect and handle samples and microbiology testing recommendations and practices.
CTLA’s Microbiology Testing Capabilities
To protect your brand from contamination of harmful microorganisms, we offer complete microbiology testing. Our Microbiology Combination Testing includes total plate count (TPC), yeast and mold (YM), salmonella, total coliforms, E. coli, and staph aureus.
Total Plate Count (TPC) - TPC is a basic test to determine the hygienic status of a food, supplement, or cosmetic and/or the manufacturer’s adherence to good manufacturing practices (GMP). TPC testing indicates the number of microorganisms that can grow in aerobic conditions at ambient temperatures between 77- and 104-degrees Fahrenheit. This test does not differentiate between various types of microorganisms but is rather a total count of all microorganisms.
Yeast and Mold (YM) - Yeast and mold are both fungi. Mold grows in multicellular filaments whereas yeast follows single-celled growth. These fungi have broad growth requirements and can quickly decompose food and, in some instances, produce mycotoxins with both acute and chronic health effects.
Salmonella – The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates the bacteria classified as salmonella is responsible for 1.35 million illnesses and 420 deaths in the US each year. Salmonella is found in the intestinal tract of animals, especially birds, and can easily contaminate food and water sources.
Total Coliforms – Coliforms are bacteria in the digestive tract of all animals including humans and are excreted in feces. The number and types of pathogens in human and animal feces are almost limitless. Testing for total coliforms is an indicator of fecal contamination with the possibility of dangerous pathogen contamination.
E. coli – Though this anaerobic bacterium is key to healthy human digestion, a few strains of E. Coli are pathogenic and can cause severe intestinal tract issues including bloody diarrhea especially in immune-compromised individuals. Soil and water contamination have caused numerous recalls in the past few years of leafy greens, romaine lettuce, and hamburger due to E. coli contamination.
Staph Aureus – Staphylococcus Aureus is a bacterium found on human skin and can cause food poisoning. However, it is easily killed by heat treatment or sanitization. Hence, finding staph aureus or its enterotoxins is a sign of poor sanitation in food, supplement, or cosmetic processing.
Other Microbiological Tests Available at CTLA
Microbiology Combination Testing with
Pseudomonas Bacteria Test – Pseudomonas bacteria are common in the natural environment. However, some of the pseudomonades are becoming resistant to antibiotics and cause severe respiratory or blood infections especially after surgery in healthcare settings.
Surface ATP Testing – Pathogens cannot be seen with the naked eye. Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) is a molecule found in all living cells. Its natural abundance makes ATP an easy test to determine if food, supplement, or cosmetic processing equipment has been properly cleaned and sanitized.
Additional microorganism laboratory testing including other bacteria strains or individual microbiology tests are available upon request.
Increase Your Product’s Consumer Confidence and Loyalty with CTLA’s Testing Services
CTLA follows USDA and FDA sampling protocol, procedures, and chain of custody requirements once a sample arrives at our laboratory to ensure the sample is not tainted or mishandled in any way.
To increase consumer confidence and loyalty and avoid costly recalls, we recommend developing a sampling and microbiological testing regime. CTLA Testing Laboratory is here to meet all your food, dietary supplement, and cosmetic microbiological testing needs. Contact us (https://ctlatesting.com/pages/contact-us) today to see how easy it is to improve consumer confidence in your product.
(Unless otherwise noted, testing a food, dietary supplement, or cosmetic sample is not a guarantee the entire product is pathogen-free. To obtain that guarantee, 100% of the product would have to be tested.)
“Microbiological Standards and Guidelines.” United Sates Department of Agriculture. https://www.nal.usda.gov/fsrio/microbiological-standards-and-guidelines
The Partnership for Food Protection Laboratory Task Force. “Food/Feed Testing Laboratories Best Practices Manual (Draft).” Food and Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/media/87427/download
“Microbiology Testing of Fresh Produce.” Center for Produce Safety. https://www.centerforproducesafety.org/amass/documents/document/269/MicroWhite_Paper.pdf
Mendonca, Aubrey et al. “Microbiological Considerations in Food Safety and Quality Systems Implementation.” Science Direct. 2020. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/plate-count
Tournas, Valerie et al. “BAM Chapter 18: Yeast, Molds, and Mycotoxins.” Food and Drug Administration. 2017. https://www.fda.gov/food/laboratory-methods-food/bam-chapter-18-yeasts-molds-and-mycotoxins
“Salmonella.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/index.html
“Coliform Bacteria in Drinking Water Supplies.” New York State Department of Health. 2017. https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/water/drinking/coliform_bacteria.htm
“E. Coli (Escherichia coli)” Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/index.html
Tallent, Sandra et al. “BAM Chapter 12: Staphylococcus Aureus.” Food and Drug Administration. 2019. https://www.fda.gov/food/laboratory-methods-food/bam-chapter-12-staphylococcus-aureus
“Pseudomonas aeruginosa in Healthcare Settings.” Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/hai/organisms/pseudomonas.html
“How Clean is it? What ATP can tell you about the safety of your food handling areas.” 3M Food Safety News. https://food-safety-news.3m.com/fsn/how-clean-is-it-what-atp-can-tell-you-about-the-safety-of-your-food-handling-areas/