How to Warrant Microbiological Food Safety in Food Companies

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Abstract

Traditional methods for food microbiological analysis are mainly culture-based, but also combine biochemical, molecular, and immunological principles in order to provide specific and unequivocal identification of contaminants. They are considered as gold standards by international regulations and are the most popular and widely used. These methods, however, received several criticisms, which led to the development of new alternative analytical methods. Their main focus is to provide accurate and reliable results, also aiming to reduce the time of analysis and facilitate procedures and interpretation of data. Despite these strengths, every method, both traditional and alternative, has intrinsic weaknesses that may affect results and stem from various factors, such as specific food matrices’ characteristics, operating procedures, and sample treatment. In this work, we review and compare the analytical performances of several methods for microbiological analysis of food that are currently available on the market. We take into account their relative features (e.g. user-friendliness, costs, reliability) in order to highlight which ones may fit best in daily monitoring of food safety and quality. Among these alternative methods, the Micro Biological Survey (MBS) method is based on a colorimetric system that can easily analyze liquids and solids via selective counting bacteria in food samples, allowing even the smallest food companies to carry out all microbiological tests required by regulations “in house.”