FAQs

General
Microbial Research
Food & Drink
Industrial
Water

How can I sterilise the Speedy Breedy Unit?

For some applications it can be necessary to sterilise the Speedy Breedy units themselves before introducing them to a certain environment (e.g. a cleanroom).

The only approved method of sterilisation that Bactest will endorse is Low Pressure Ethylene Oxide.

Vapourised Hydrogen Peroxide (VHP) is not suitable for Speedy Breedy as it will corrode the electronic parts reachable by the vapour.

Will the equipment detect very low levels of these bacteria down to 1 colony in 100ml of sample?

The working volume is 50 ml although this can be stretched to approximately 65 ml in some circumstances. Speedy Breedy detects single organisms (equiv. 1 colony) in 50 ml and has been demonstrated to do so with E. coli and other coliforms both in general (TSB) and specific (McConkeys) broths.

What accreditation/standards it adheres to?

Speedy Breedy is being sold initially as a research tool and does not therefore have accreditations for particular industries at this point in time although we will be pursuing these in coming months.

Instruments are sold with a CE marking. We are working toward more complex accreditation’s including 13485.

Which media do culture vessels come with?

At this point in time Culture vessels come with MacConkey’s or TSB Broth. The provision of further selective media is in progress.

Can a few Speedy Breedys be controlled by one computer?

Yes, multiple Speedy Breedys can be controlled by a single computer, only limited by the availability of USB-ports.

Can I download/export results from Speedy Breedy?

Yes, results are automatically downloaded into the Speedy Breedy software once a test is finished and/or the next time the Speedy Breedy is connected to the software. In the software tests are stored, sorted by date and time, creating an audit trail. They are also searchable.

The software has a screenshot function enabling pictures of graphs be copied to the clipboard or saved as jpeg files.

The raw data can also be exported into Excel as a .CSV file.

What is a protocol?

A protocol is a procedural method for the design and implementation of experiments. In Speedy Breedy software, protocols tell Speedy Breedy what to do.

There is a protocol for each type of media available. Simply select the protocol matching the type of vessel you are using, load it onto Speedy Breedy and start testing.

You can also design your own protocols. 

How long does it take to train someone to use Speedy Breedy?

It takes roughly 1hr to show someone how to use Speedy Breedy and the software, a little longer to explain the background of Speedy Breedy if required.

Can two different experiments be run at the same time?

Yes, two experiments can be run at the same time using different protocols and temperatures, provided the rotor speed is the same, as a single motor is driving the rotors in both chambers.

Can I run the software on a Mac?

Currently there is no Macintosh software available for Speedy Breedy

Is it portable?

Speedy Breedy is portable and can run in many different locations, however once a test is running it has to stay connected to mains power until the test is completed.

How are swabs used with Speedy Breedy?

Swabs can either be cut up in small enough pieces as to not block the rotors or alternatively swabs can be washed down with physiological saline or other appropriate liquids and the wash down fluid then inoculated into Speedy Breedy.

How do I dispose of the culture vessels?

We recommend using an autoclave at 121°C at 15 psi for 15 minutes which kills the culture. Alternatively the local hospital or authority may provide a service. Following autoclaving a land fill or an incinerator may be used. Local regulations may apply.

Do I need a new vessel for every experiment?

Yes, due to the fact that used culture vessels are considered hazardous material and need to be treated as such.

How specific is it?

Speedy Breedy relies on the culture of the contaminant organisms. The specificity is therefore determined by the growth conditions such as temperature, gaseous conditions and culture medium.

How sensitive is Speedy Breedy?

Speedy Breedy has demonstrated detection of single colony forming units (potentially single organisms) in many applications and many contaminant organisms.

Do large numbers of pseudomonas mask E. coli?

Studies have shown that selective conditions of 44 Deg Celsius and MacConkey broth for growth and detection will generate a strong positive signal for E. coli even when it is present in low numbers compared to large numbers of Pseudomonads present in the starting sample.

Can it do total colony counts?

There is often a good correlation between the number of organisms present in the sample (as assessed by plate counts) and the time to detection in Speedy Breedy particularly where there is a predominant species. Speedy Breedy can therefore be used to assess the level of contamination in many situations.

Can it do yeasts and moulds?

Speedy Breedy has been used to test for yeast contamination in a number of applications. Moulds are more problematic as some moulds grow very slowly. Each organism should be assessed on its own characteristics.

Can it detect anaerobes?

Yes Speedy Breedy can be used to grow and detect anaerobes.

Can Speedy Breedy test solids?

Solids can only be tested if they have been homogenised and/or liquefied. Care must be taken that samples don’t block the rotors and mix well with the medium.

How long does a test take?

Depending on the degree of contamination and the type of organism, to get a positive result can take as little as 2.5 hours for a very contaminated sample. Most bacterial protocols will give you a result within 24 hours.

Yeasts are much slower growing than bacteria and the protocols take around 96 hours for a guaranteed negative.

Where is Speedy Breedy manufactured?

Speedy Breedy is designed and manufactured in the UK, as are the vessels and the vast majority of parts for Speedy Breedy.

How long is the warranty?

Speedy Breedy comes with a 1-year warranty.

How can I measure and monitor bacterial gas production?

Bacterial gas production is associated with the metabolic processes and activity of the organism.  Microbes use many different types of metabolic strategies and species can often be differentiated from each other based on metabolic characteristics. Gas production by microbes is often associated with fermentative processes which convert carbon sources such as sugars into carbon dioxide.

A number of laboratory based contamination tests rely only on carbon dioxide production by the infecting organism. Speedy Breedy is different as it can detect both gas production and usage (e.g. oxygen uptake in aerobic respiration) which means it is more versatile and more rapid as it can detect either aerobic or anaerobic processes, the former being earlier than the latter in most facultative organisms.

Speedy Breedy measures metabolic gas exchange as a function of pressure change within a closed culture vessel. As microbes metabolise and respire, gas uptake and production within the culture medium is transferred to the headspace creating a net change in pressure. When the vessel is enclosed in a Speedy Breedy instrument these pressure changes are monitored and (if required) output to PC in graphical form.

Speedy Breedy measures growth in two ways:

  1. By using replication rate (usually from small microbial numbers) to a critical mass of organisms that gives a Significant Pressure Event within the culture vessel and by using the time it takes to do this, the Time to Detection (TTD), as a measure of how fast the organisms are reproducing.
  2. By directly measuring the respiration (as pressure change as gases are used or produced) of very large numbers of organisms in the culture vessel.

Since Speedy Breedy has two culture chambers (or multiple Speedy Breedys can be used) it is possible to monitor the effects of growth promoters or inhibitors by simply inoculating two vessels with a microbial culture of identical composition and using one test chamber with test material and a second (without test material) as a control. Any difference in the TTD is indicative of the effect of the test compound. This method is useful for measuring growth and replication rate and can start with only a few organisms. It can also be undertaken at remote locations as it does not require a PC, Lap Top or software to interpret results.

A second method is to inoculate two vessels with very high microbial numbers and add the test compound – gaseous exchange associated with metabolism and respiration and measured as a function of pressure change within the culture vessel may vary between the two chambers mirroring the effect of the test compound on the organisms. This requires the Speedy Breedy software which comes with the instrument and allows manipulation of data and visualises pressure curves.

How can I measure metabolic gas exchange?

Bacterial gas production is associated with the metabolic processes and activity of the organism.  Microbes use many different types of metabolic strategies and species can often be differentiated from each other based on metabolic characteristics. Gas production by microbes is often associated with fermentative processes which convert carbon sources such as sugars into carbon dioxide. A number of laboratory based contamination tests rely only on carbon dioxide production by the infecting organism. Speedy Breedy is different as it can detect both gas production and usage (e.g. oxygen uptake in aerobic respiration). This means it is more versatile and more rapid as it can detect either aerobic or anaerobic processes, the former being earlier than the latter in most facultative organisms.

Speedy Breedy measures metabolic gas exchange as a function of pressure change within a closed culture vessel. As microbes metabolise and respire, gas uptake and production within the culture medium is transferred to the headspace creating a net change in pressure. When the vessel is enclosed in a Speedy Breedy instrument these pressure changes are monitored and (if required) output to PC in graphical form.

Speedy Breedy measures growth in two ways:

  1. By using replication rate (usually from small microbial numbers) to a critical mass of organisms that gives a Significant Pressure Event within the culture vessel and by using the time it takes to do this, the Time to Detection (TTD) as a measure of how fast the organisms are reproducing.
  2. By directly measuring the respiration (as pressure changes while gases are used or produced) of very large numbers of organisms in the culture vessel.

The first method using Time to Detection uses small numbers of organisms and watches their replication rate. Since Speedy Breedy has two culture chambers (or multiple Speedy Breedys can be used) it is possible to monitor the effects of growth promoters or inhibitors by simply inoculating two vessels with a microbial culture of identical composition and using one test chamber with test material and a second (without test material) as a control. Any difference in the TTD is indicative of the effect of the test compound. This method is useful for measuring growth and replication rate and can start with only a few organisms. It can also be undertaken at remote locations as Speedy Breedy is portable and only requires a flat, dry surface and access to mains or 12V power and a laptop to interpret the results.

The second method is to inoculate two vessels with very high microbial numbers and add the test compound – gaseous exchange associated with metabolism and respiration is therefore very high and visible in near real time in the growth curves. This is measured as a function of pressure change within the culture vessels which, when running a test vs. control, may vary between the two chambers mirroring the effect of the test compound on the organisms. This requires the Speedy Breedy software which comes with the instrument and allows manipulation of data and visualises pressure curves.

How can I measure effect of antibiotics in developing new culture media?

The study of microorganisms relies heavily on our ability to grow these organisms in the laboratory. Suitable culture media are therefore required.

Specialised media are widely employed for the isolation and identification of microorganisms in the fields of pathogenicity, antibiotic sensitivity testing, analysis of water and food, industrial microbiology, and many other applications. In order to be able to thrive microorganisms generally need a source of energy as well as nitrogen, carbon, phosphorus, sulphur, and various minerals, but the exact composition of a suitable medium can vary greatly between organisms

Selective media allow the growth of certain types of organisms, while inhibiting the growth of others. This selectivity can be achieved in several ways. Specific inhibitors such as antibiotics may be used to suppress the non-target organisms, while allowing resistant organisms to flourish. For example media containing penicillin at a concentration of 5-50 units/ml can inhibit the growth of many Gram-positive bacteria.

In developing new media and measuring the effects of growth promoters or inhibitors within the medium a method to measure the effect of the additions is required.

Speedy Breedy measures growth in two ways:

  1. By using replication rate (usually from small microbial numbers) to a critical mass of organisms that gives a Significant Pressure Event and by using the time it takes to do this, the Time to Detection (TTD) as a measure of how fast the organisms are reproducing.
  2. By directly measuring the respiration (as pressure change as gases are used or produced) of very large numbers of organisms in the culture vessel.

The first method using Time to Detection uses small numbers of organisms and watches their replication rate.  Since Speedy Breedy has two culture chambers (or multiple Speedy Breedys can be used) it is possible to monitor the effects of growth promoters or inhibitors by simply inoculating two vessels with a microbial culture of identical composition and using one test chamber with test material and a second (without test material) as a control. Any difference in the TTD is indicative of the effect of the test compound. This method is useful for measuring growth and replication rate and can start with only a few organisms. It can also be undertaken at remote locations as Speedy Breedy is portable and only requires a flat, dry surface and access to mains or 12V power and a laptop to interpret the results.

The second method is to inoculate two vessels with very high microbial numbers and add the test compound – gaseous exchange associated with metabolism and respiration is therefore very high and visible in near real time in the growth curves. This is measured as a function of pressure change within the culture vessels which, when running a test vs. control, may vary between the two chambers mirroring the effect of the test compound on the organisms. This requires the Speedy Breedy software which comes with the instrument and allows manipulation of data and visualises pressure curves.

Further Reading
How Speedy Breedy Works

What tests can be used for infection control in healthcare environments?

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) estimate that 300,000 NHS patients per year suffer from a healthcare-acquired infection.  Estimated to cost the NHS £1 billion per annum, bacterial pathogens (such as Clostridium difficile or antibiotic resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus) are a key contributor.

Healthcare institutes have a care-of-duty to patients which should include thorough and effective infection control. Failure of infection control has financial implications for healthcare institutes as well as significant physical and emotional implications for patients.

Control includes both good education and good sanitary practice, with simple but thorough hand decontamination measures at the centre of infection control procedures.

Assessing Infection Control Success

Standard assessment of infection control is through bacterial culture methods using swabbed samples taken from patients and staff as well as from the healthcare environment. Any bacterial contamination will be identified (over at least 24 hours) and will be suggestive of a failure in infection control.

Laboratory testing of this kind is valuable in:

  • Evaluating Infection Control Measures: Spot-check assessment of staff and the healthcare environment may highlight that further education of the infection control policy is needed, or more rigorous control measures are required.
  • Admissions Screening: Assessment of new patients into the care environment can identify the presence of organisms such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) allowing for care and control measures to be put in place and prevent potential outbreaks.
  • Monitoring Infection Outbreaks: Where infection control measures fail, the ability to ascertain the extent of any contamination / outbreak is essential to put in place effective control measures and monitor their success.

Large healthcare institutions will operate on-site microbiology laboratories. Smaller healthcare sites, or private care centres, without immediate access to on-site facilities will therefore have a need to refer samples to a third party, off-site.

Rapidly identifying failures in infection control is key to reducing their impact and on-site testing reduces delays between taking samples and obtaining a result.

Speedy Breedy is a portable microbial respirometer that can be used to identify bacterial contamination. Designed for ease-of-use without laboratory experience, Speedy Breedy can be operated by staff on-site and has been shown to identify low levels of contamination in under 12 hours. Where contamination is higher, the time to detection is much faster and working in real time, Speedy Breedy alarms as soon as significant contamination is detected.

Further Reading
Speedy Breedy Specification
NICE Report CG139 : Infection: Prevention and control of health-care associated infections in primary and community care (found on www.nice.org.uk)
NHS Constitution for England (found on www.gov.uk)
NHS Professionals Infection Control Policy (found on www.nhsprofessionals.nhs.uk)
Health Protection Agency : MRSA Screening & Suppression (found on www.hpa.org.uk)

Is there a faster and easier way of detecting microbial contamination?

Microbes are an important part of the world we live in. In industry there are many examples where microbes are of significant benefit from use of yeasts in food and drink production to the use of bacteria for biogas production. Microbes, however, can pose various problems in industry:

  • Spoilage organisms in food and drink production.
  • Contamination of consumer goods with pathogens.
  • Biofilm generation on industrial equipment affecting performance.
  • Contamination in sterile work environments.

The presence of contamination can be costly to a business in a variety of ways:

  • Quality Control failure of product.
  • Product recall of consumer goods.
  • Downtime of equipment.
  • Health implications for staff.

The ability to detect contamination rapidly and with ease will have significant business gains and will be a key part of Cleaning in Place (CIP) systems now common in consumer goods production.

Rapid Microbial Detection

Traditional testing for contamination will vary depending on the causative organism/s involved but typical culture techniques will take at least several days, for some slow-growing organisms this may take even longer. Transport of samples to a laboratory will also add to the time taken to obtain a result for a contamination test.

Speedy Breedy is a rapid solution for detecting microbial contamination. Featuring sensitive pressure detection and monitoring systems, Speedy Breedy is a microbial respirometer which tracks, metabolic activity of organisms in a sample in real time. The use of different growth media enables general contamination detection or more selective detection if specific organisms are of interest.

The technology within Speedy Breedy allows for rapid detection when compared against traditional laboratory techniques. Speedy Breedy has demonstrated detection of single CFU levels of E. coli in under eleven hours. Higher levels of contamination are identified over increasingly shorter time frames. So the more contaminated a sample is, the faster a result is available.

Speedy Breedy not only shows rapid detection times, it also offers operational time savings. An approachable design means that no laboratory experience is necessary and anybody can be trained to operate Speedy Breedy. A portable design means that Speedy Breedy can be operated at the site of sampling and a simple alert to operators means that any corrective action required can get underway the moment contamination is detected.

Further Reading
Speedy Breedy Specification

How can I quickly and thoroughly validate cleaning processes?

Many micro-organisms are considered beneficial – baking and brewing rely on yeasts, the human intestinal flora helps prevent invasive infections, bacteria can be used to break down oil spills and treat sewage. Other organisms are more concerning either to industry (spoilage of food or biofilms affecting equipment) or to health (disease causing organisms in humans and animals).

Where there are microbes that are not wanted or not under control, there are cleaning processes to prevent microscopic activity becoming a major problem:

  • Infection control in hospitals, nurseries and care homes.
  • Steam and chemical sterilising of industrial equipment.
  • UV and chemical treatment of contaminated water.
  • Biocide use to control biofilms in industrial fluids.
  • Sterilising in pharmaceutical laboratories.
  • Hygiene control in food production and service.

Cleaning can be as simple as good hand washing or as complex as multiple chemical wash programmes with caustic treatments. Regardless of how microbial activity is tackled, it is important that it is effective.

How clean is clean?

Checking the effectiveness of a cleaning process is important in order to avoid the risks of an ineffective clean. Treating patients when infection control has not been thorough, starting food production when contaminated equipment cleaning hasn’t been checked or venting ballast water that has not been shown to be treated can lead to physical, emotional, financial and brand damage.

Rapid checks can be used – ATP testing is a popular quick approach although it is known to not be highly sensitive so may give false ‘all clean’ results – but traditional methods for confirming cleanliness at the microbial level would be to carry out laboratory culture techniques.

Not everybody has immediate access to a laboratory or testing may be cost prohibitive, but certainly wherever such testing takes place it will be time consuming as culture techniques require 48 hours to yield a result, even when time saving is essential.

Rapid microbial cleanliness checks

Speedy Breedy is an easy-to-use, approachable, compact and portable device for the detection of microbial contamination and suitable for quick, reliable, sensitive and accurate validation of cleaning procedures.

Approximately the size of a loaf of bread, Speedy Breedy provides the user with everything needed to safely assess cleanliness but without the need for large laboratory equipment or microbiology expertise. Courtesy of patented sensing technology, Speedy Breedy can rapidly detect even single organisms in a number of hours as opposed to days.

Speedy Breedy can detect a single E. coli bacterium in under 11 hours. If there is no detection at 11 hours, the end user gets the ‘all clean’ message. Speedy Breedy can be used to detect the important contaminants in different industries and sectors, rapidly. Speedy Breedy helps to eliminate the risk of second guessing the success of cleaning procedures which have significant financial, physical and emotional implications.

Further Reading
Speedy Breedy Data Sheets
Lab Memos
Easter, M. (2008) Rapid Hygiene Tests in Support of Food Safety – Exploding the Myths about ATP Hygiene Monitoring. Hygiena DataSheet 46

Where can I find a portable culture system?

Culturing bacteria – a necessity

Culturing bacteria and isolating different species with the help of a culture medium is a long-established standard method in microbiology. Culture techniques are used to identify contamination and pathogens in food, water and the environment.  The method usually involves a laboratory, agar plates, incubators, as well as a trained microbiologist to culture and identify the colonies.

Using agar plates and the required associated laboratory equipment is sometimes out of the question due to practical restrictions such as location, budget or expertise. Because of these constraints, often samples from less accessible regions are sent away to be tested by a laboratory elsewhere.

However, sending samples away to be tested does not only increase the waiting time for results for a test (which already takes a few days in the first place), but also adds factors such as the influence of transport on the sample and reliability of transport in all seasons, as well as costs. 

All of this can have a huge impact on how much microbiological testing is done and how frequently.

Speedy Breedy – the fast, portable culture system

Speedy Breedy is a cost-effective, portable microbial culture system. Being only the size of a loaf of bread it is ideally suited for testing in the field and remote areas. All that Speedy Breedy requires to operate is a flat, dry surface and either a reliable mains power source or a 12V power source (such as a car battery).

Speedy Breedy detects pressure changes caused by microbial respiration within sealed, disposable culture vessels. These vessels are pre-filled with sterile culture medium and continuously mixed with a patented mixing system. The culture vessels sit in two independently temperature controlled chambers within the unit.

Speedy Breedy is much faster than traditional culture techniques involving agar plates and incubators and will give results within 24 hours.

Speedy Breedy can run with or without being connected to a laptop, but from the proprietary software Speedy Breedy can not only be controlled, but also data can be analysed in real time.

Due to the simple four-button design and user friendly software, Speedy Breedy is very easy to use and does not require extensive training.

With Speedy Breedy bacterial testing can be undertaken in the field or at the point of sampling and the turnaround time of tests will dramatically decrease from days to just hours.

How can I do microbiology tests without using agar plates?

Using agar plates for the semi-quantitative analysis of microbes is a long established method, but even though there have been huge technological advances over the past 130 years, the use of agar plates has not changed significantly. Although it is the accepted standard, it can also be rather cumbersome. Using agar plates to grow bacteria and other microbes requires a laboratory space, growth medium, buffers, incubators, technicians, a trained microbiologist and most of all time which all adds to the overhead costs.

So what to do when there is a need for fast microbiological testing but without using agar plates?

Speedy Breedy can help.

Speedy Breedy is a simple instrument which uses advanced pressure sensing to detect microbial growth. It is very easy to use and does away with the need for agar plates, a laboratory and the associated overhead costs. All that is required is a clean, dry, flat space with electricity and the means to get the sample into the testing chamber without contaminating it. This means it can even be used in the field.

Bacterial testing can now be conducted without an expert microbiologist.  With the help of the Speedy Breedy software there is no need to interpret numbers. The software enables the user to visualise any microbial growth in real time and alerts both from the software and the instrument make it very clear whether or not contamination is present.

Speedy Breedy is an easier and much faster way of testing for microbial contamination and can be used to detect a wide variety of microbes. Speedy Breedy can even distinguish between different groups or species when appropriate selective media is used.

Speedy Breedy uses sealed vessels to incubate the sample with growth medium and provide the ideal environment for bacterial growth. The Speedy Breedy vessels can come pre-filled with growth medium in dissolving capsules or alternatively the user can use their own medium with Speedy Breedy.

So wherever a quick and safe way to test for bacterial contamination without the use of agar plates is required, Speedy Breedy is the solution.

How can I do microbial testing in the field?

Bacteriology is a centuries old discipline with the first bacteriologists dating to the late 1600s. The subsequent hundreds of years has opened up a greater understanding of bacteria, the ubiquitous nature and their importance in public health, industry, food production and the environment.

With the exception of recent developments in molecular technologies, the methods for testing for bacteria have hardly changed in several centuries. Bacterial cultivation is still carried out with the aid of growth media and the incubation of samples, whilst identification still relies on trained and well resourced technicians. As trends move towards molecular technologies in the coming decades there will then also be a reliance on complex, expensive laboratory equipment.

Laboratory Availability

Bacteria are everywhere. They are not limited by geographical borders, by climate, by population size or by road access. This ubiquitous nature means that there are numerous situations where there is the need for microbial testing but without immediate access to a laboratory, for example :

  • The aid worker in a disaster zone in a third world country following recent floods, trying to ascertain if local drinking water is safe.
  • The epidemiologist working in remote parts of Africa trying to assess the scale and causes of a disease outbreak and monitor the progress of the outbreak.
  • The veterinarian at a stables trying to assess whether a three day old foal is suffering potentially fatal, bacterial septicaemia so that broad spectrum antibiotics can be started.
  • The engineer repairing a water mains burst who is trying to ensure that there has been no contamination of water supplies.

In these situations, and others, the lack of immediate access to a microbiology laboratory creates logistical delays in performing testing as samples are transported away from the site of interest. The ability to conduct a rapid, on-site microbial assessment in these situations can offer significant clinical and financial gains.

Speedy Breedy is a portable microbial respirometer that can be used to identify and detect bacterial growth more rapidly than standard culture techniques courtesy of a patented pressure sensing technology. With a significant focus on ease-of-use, Speedy Breedy can be operated without any formal microbiology training and results are easy to interpret.

Encompassing incubation and identification in the one device, weighing approximately 3kg and significantly smaller than a briefcase, Speedy Breedy offers a highly portable microbiology solution.

Further Reading
Speedy Breedy Data Sheets
Petti CA et al (2005) Laboratory Medicine in Africa: A Barrier to Effective Health Care. Clinical Infectious Diseases. Vol 42 (3), pp. 377-382

How do I measure the effect of microbial inhibitors or enhancers/growth promoters?

There are wide ranging fundamental studies of microbial metabolism that look at the roles and reactions of microbes in various situations, how they react to physical conditions, nutrients and inhibitory factors, and how this affects growth and replication. In human health and disease, monitoring of growth inhibitors such as antibiotics is of particular importance. In industry, microbes are used for many fermentations and other production processes including the production of pharmaceuticals, vaccine delivery and in the food industry and biofuels. The biochemical pathways used, nutrients, and role of growth enhancers or inhibitors may be hugely important to the efficiency of the process.

Speedy Breedy measures growth in two ways:

  1. By using replication rate (usually from small microbial numbers) to a critical mass of organisms that gives a Significant Pressure Event and by using the time it takes to do this , the Time to Detection (TTD) as a measure of how fast the organisms are reproducing.
  2. By directly measuring the respiration (as pressure change as gases are used or produced) of very large numbers of organisms in the culture vessel.

Since Speedy Breedy has two culture chambers (or multiple Speedy Breedys can be used) it is possible to monitor the effects of growth promoters or inhibitors by simply inoculating two vessels with a microbial culture of identical composition and using one test chamber with test material and a second (without test material) as a control. Any difference in the TTD is indicative of the effect of the test compound. This method is useful for measuring growth and replication rate and can start with only a few organisms. It can also be undertaken at remote locations as it does not require a PC, Lap Top or software to interpret results.

A second method is to inoculate two vessels with very high microbial numbers and add the test compound – gaseous exchange associated with metabolism and respiration and measured as a function of pressure change within the culture vessel may vary between the two chambers mirroring the effect of the test compound on the organisms. This requires the Speedy Breedy software which comes with the instrument and allows manipulation of data and visualises pressure curves.

How do I shorten the time for positive release?

Quality Control is a fundamental part of any food or drink manufacturing process to ensure the safety of consumers and the safety of the business, its reputation and its brands. Ensuring that the end product has acceptable levels of contamination indicator organisms and a complete absence of pathogens such as Salmonella, Staphylococcus and Listeria is a key part of the Quality Control process.

The Negatives of Positive Release

Microbiological Quality Control testing will typically involve sending samples of finished product to the laboratory for standard culture techniques in order to identify any pathogens and confirm total viable counts. Once the laboratory reports their findings, stock can be given the “all clear” to be sent to vendors. However, awaiting results from the laboratory can take over a week including the time taken to transport samples to the laboratory. During this time stock is held in storage.

Positive release is undoubtedly important but from a business perspective it can be costly to house large volumes of stock which are awaiting dispatch. The physical space required, the impact on cash flow and the potential impact on shelf life all mean that having to hold stock for too long, is anything but positive.

Rapid and Portable Microbial Testing

Speedy Breedy is a desktop instrument designed to provide a rapid microbial detection solution to the food and beverage production industry. Speedy Breedy uses methods similar to those carried out in the laboratory on agar plates, but with the aid of patented sensor technology offers a rapid confirmation of microbial contamination.

The sensor technology within Speedy Breedy enables testing which is significantly quicker than a standard culture process. Detection of bacterial levels of 1 CFU per ml of sample can be made in less than 16 hours, with increasingly higher levels of contamination detected notably faster.

A simple, attractive, out-of-the-box, plug-and-play type design that requires no microbiology expertise means that anybody can take a sample from the production process, from raw ingredients to the finished product and immediately get testing underway. This eliminates any transport-related delays in obtaining results. Visual and audible cues from Speedy Breedy then alert the user to the detection of contamination or give the “all clear” message.

For senior Quality Control staff, Speedy Breedy can be connected to a PC and minute-by-minute data viewed in real time or downloaded from the instrument itself for in-depth analysis. Speedy Breedy provides a full digital audit trail meaning that Speedy Breedy can also be used at the heart of HACCP and CIP systems.

Further Reading
Speedy Breedy Specification
Food Standards Agency (2005) General Guidance for Food Business Operators
Health Protection Agency (2009) Guidelines for Assessing the Microbiology Safety of Ready-to-Eat Foods
Lab Memos
Speedy Breedy Trials

How can I reduce positive release times when making ice cream?

Quality control is important in any industry, but in the food and drink industry, when selling consumable products where consumer safety and brand quality are vitally important, in an industry estimated to be worth £1.8 billion per annum in the UK by 2016, extensive quality control is essential.

An important part of quality control checks, particularly for ready-to-eat products such as ice cream, is microbiology testing. Final product should be free of any pathogens and there will be strict limits for the presence of any hygiene-indicator organisms.

The balance between completing quality control assessment and releasing product to vendors and distributors is one where the risk of product recall, brand reputation damage and consumer well-being must be balanced against storage space costs and the impact on cash flow of holding stock until quality control checks are complete.

With traditional laboratory techniques taking several days, the time between taking a sample for testing and receiving results from a laboratory can be as long as 10 days. When operating a positive release approach and producing hundreds or thousands of litres of ice cream each day these turn-around time can become quite costly to a business.

Rapid Microbial Testing

Speedy Breedy is a portable instrument for use in the ice cream industry for the rapid detection of bacterial contamination of final product, manufacture equipment and raw ingredients. Requiring no additional laboratory equipment or microbiology experience to conduct testing, Speedy Breedy is an approachable and simple way to reduce time to positive release by screening ice cream for the bacteria of interest:

  • E. coli and other coliforms
  • Listeria
  • Salmonellae
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Pseudomonas

A highly sensitive detection system allows Speedy Breedy to detect bacteria, even in very small numbers, in a matter of hours, not days. With an approachable, easy-to-use design and plug-and-play operation, testing can commence the moment a sample is taken with no delays for sample transportation.

An operator is alerted immediately upon Speedy Breedy detecting contamination and the time taken to detect bacteria is directly associated with the numbers of bacteria present. This enables Speedy Breedy to be programmed with “SAFE TO RELEASE” messages corresponding to permitted bacterial numbers as dictated by the requirements of vendors, distributors and local regulations.

Speedy Breedy stores all test data and analysis tools are provided, enabling quality control managers to confidently include Speedy Breedy as part of HACCP and CIP systems.

Further Reading
Speedy Breedy Specification
Summary of MarketLine report in The Grocer
Health Protection Agency (2009) Guidelines for Assessing the Microbiological Safety of Ready-to-Eat Foods Placed on the Market
New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers  Association (2012) Guidelines for the Development of a Food Safety Programme or a Risk Management Programme for Ice Cream.
Lab Memos
Speedy Breedy Trials

How can I test for the presence of Listeria in dairy products?

Listeriosis, typically a food-borne disease caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, which whilst rare is the most significant organism associated with foodborne deaths in the UK. During the first decade of the millennium, there was a doubling of laboratory-confirmed cases of listeriosis in the UK and nearly 20% increase in the EU.

EU and national food safety guidelines call for strict quality control and finished products to be free of L. monocytogenes. With some estimates suggesting as many as half of all cases of food-borne listeriosis originate in milk, as the bacterium is known to infect dairy cows, Listeria detection is of significant importance in milk, cheese, cream and ice cream production.

Positive Release and Rapid Detection

Laboratory confirmation of the absence or presence of L. monocytogenes is a routine part of quality control procedures. However with laboratory turn-around times, from the time of sampling to the receipt of a laboratory report, typically between 7 and 10 days, this can mean prolonged storage of finished product before it can be released.

Awaiting quality control results means that finished product is not on the shelves of a retailer but on the shelves of storage freezers at the production or distribution site. Space for storage, energy use for frozen storage and the days lost on shelf life all have financial impacts. Similarly, the inability to transfer finished product to the vendor impacts on cash flow.

Speedy Breedy is a portable microbial respirometer with both rapid detection and ease-of-use in mind. Requiring no microbiology experience to operate, the portable nature of Speedy Breedy allows testing to begin at the site of sampling, eliminating delays caused by sample transport. An audible and visual alert then confirms the presence or absence of contamination.

Patented sensor technology facilitates Speedy Breedy exhibiting a high sensitivity, detecting single CFU / ml contamination levels within 16 hours. Working in real time, a positive result triggers an alert as soon as detection is confirmed by the instrument allowing for rapid commencement of corrective and follow-up activity such as decontamination procedures.

 

Further reading
Speedy Breedy Specification
Lab Memos
Food Standards Agency – Listeria
Montague-Jones, G. (2011) New EU figures reveal big increase in listeriosis cases in 2009
Pricope-Ciolacu, L. et al (2013) The effect of milk components and storage conditions on the virulence of Listeria monocytogenes as determined by a Caco-2 cell assay. International Journal of Food Microbiology, Vol. 166, pp. 59-64.
van Kessel, J. et al (2011) Prevalence of Salmonella enterica, Listeria monocytogenes and Escherichia coli Virulence Factors in Bulk Tank Milk and In-Line Filters from US Dairies. Journal of Food Protection, Vol. 74, pp. 759-768.
Health Protection Agency (2009) Guidelines for Assessing the Microbiology Safety of Ready-to-Eat Foods

How can I test for microbial contamination in ice cream making?

The January 2013 MarketLine report of the health of the ice cream industry in the United Kingdom shows revenue of approximately £1.5 billion in 2011 with a predicted growth to £1.8 billion for the year 2016. Ice cream is a big industry but it can be hit hard by the smallest of organisms.

Bacteria & Ice Cream

There are a number of microbes that are of concern to the ice cream manufacturer and these are at the heart of food safety regulations imposed not only nationally but by vendors as well. Whilst some micro-organisms can affect ice cream quality, the most significant concern are organisms as indicators of hygiene and potential human pathogens:

  • E. coli and other coliforms
  • Listeria spp.
  • Salmonella spp.
  • Staphylococcus spp.
  • Pseudomonas spp.

Detecting Contamination

A robust “Clean in Place” (CIP) program is essential to ensure the quality of product before dispatch to vendors. Traditional microbiological testing can require as many as 7 – 10 days for culture of bacteria and reporting of results. Manufacturers without immediate access to a microbiology laboratory will need to out-source this work. Such out-sourcing also contributes to a lag time in sending samples.

Speedy Breedy is a portable instrument for use in rapid detection of bacterial contamination of samples. With a simple but highly effective design, Speedy Breedy offers what is essentially a microbiology laboratory in a box, with no additional, complex equipment needs and no microbiology experience required to perform testing. With this in mind, Speedy Breedy can be used on-site at the point of sampling.

A patented sensor technology within Speedy Breedy allows for the detection of bacterial contamination significantly faster than routine culture methods. The detection of very low level bacterial contamination occurs within 12-14 hours, with increasingly faster time to detection of contamination with increasing bacterial levels in the ice cream sample.

An electronic record of all test data is stored on Speedy Breedy using SD storage cards and in combination with accompanying computer software enables Quality Control managers to maintain a full audit trail of all experimental data.

Further Reading
Speedy Breedy Specification
Lab Memos
Speedy Breedy Trials
Summary of MarketLine report in The Grocer
Health Protection Agency (2009) Guidelines for Assessing the Microbiological Safety of Ready-to-Eat Foods Placed on the Market
New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers  Association (2012) Guidelines for the Development of a Food Safety Programme or a Risk Management Programme for Ice Cream

 

How can I test for microbial contamination in wine?

The Global Industry Almanac of July 2013, the annual report on the wine production industry, values the global wine market at approximately £180 billion per annum, with an estimated 22,150 million litres of wine (approximately 29,500 million bottles) being consumed each year. Market forecasts suggest that over the next five years the global market value of the industry will increase to nearer £210 billion per annum.

Wine & Bacteria – Can’t Live With Them, Can’t Live Without Them

Wine production and microbiology go hand-in-hand. Without the fermentative activity of microbes, the sugars from grapes would not be converted into to the alcoholic and non-alcoholic compounds that give wine its flavour and aroma. In this way microbes are essential for successful wine production, however, microbial contamination of wine can also occur and lead to spoilage of wine stocks.

The natural production of alcohol during fermentation can inhibit contaminating bacteria, as can the use of sulphur compounds as additives, however, there are some strains of bacteria that may still persist and are commonly associated with causing wine fault (the spoilage of wine):

  • Lactic Acid Bacteria (Lactobacillus spp., Pediococcus spp., Leuconostoc. spp.)
  • Acetic Acid Bacteria (Acetobacter spp., Gluconobacter spp.)

The metabolic activity of these bacteria will modify the chemical composition of the wine and may completely change the flavour, acidity and aroma of the wine beyond what is considered palatable.

Contamination can occur at various points in the production process though typically is associated with poor levels of sanitation. Additional sources of contamination can include exposure to bacteria during aeration processes used in the production of some types of wines such as Sherries.

Quality Control & Microbial Testing

A thorough quality control (QC) program is essential to ensure spoilage control measures are effective and to quality check stock before shipping to distributors. Many vineyards and wineries will not have direct access to appropriate microbial testing facilities and will need to out-source QC testing. Doing so generates a lag time between stock production and release to vendors.

Speedy Breedy is a portable microbial respirometer that can be used to identify bacterial contamination without the need for extensive scientific training. Designed for ease-of-use and ease-of-interpretation, Speedy Breedy can be operated by on-site staff and incorporates a patented sensor technology that has been shown to be sufficiently sensitive to detect single colony-forming units of some bacterial species in less than 12 hours.

Operating in real time, an alarm alerts the operator to contamination as soon as it has been detected, allowing staff at the vineyard or winery to put subsequent actions into place, whether this is the early release of stock or the initiation of decontamination procedures.

Further Reading
Speedy Breedy Specification
Bartowsky, EJ et al. (2009) Wine bacteria – friends and foes. Australia and New Zealand Wine Industry Journal, 24, pp 14 – 16. (Available at www.newworldwinemaker.com)
Midwest Grape & Wine Industry Institute
Delteil, D. (2005) Preventing Microbial Spoilage. Wine Business Monthly, March 2005. (Available at http://www.winebusiness.com)
Coffey, R. (2011) Winemaking: a Combination of Science, Nature, Art and Footwork. Discover Magazine, Sept. 2011 (Available at http://discovermagazine.com)
Wine Global Industry Almanac (2013 Edition) (Available at http://www.researchmoz.us/wine-global-industry-almanac-report.html)

How can I identify contamination in meat?

Microbial contamination in meat in Europe comes under the control of EC regulation and is enforced by the Food Standards Agency in the UK. Food Business Operators have to adhere to this general food law (178/2002/EC), viewable on the Europa web site see link below in CREDENTIALS.

Raw minced meat, meat preparations, meat produce intended for cooking and mechanically separated meat have a set frequency of sampling and standards that must be met.  Additionally hygiene practices and processes should follow a food safety management system HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Principles).  Products intended to be cooked must be clearly labelled by the manufacturer informing the consumer of the need for thorough cooking prior to consumption.

Alternative methods to those prescribed in the Regulation may be used as long as those methods give equivalent results validated against a reference method given in Annex 1 of the Regulation. Speedy Breedy is intended to be an adjunct to HACCP and therefore regulatory samples will need to be analysed by an accredited laboratory to the sampling criteria in the regulations. Validation to a reference method can be carried out and certified by a third party to comply with ISO16140.  Environmental monitoring is also an important tool when investigating why hygiene criteria and food safety criteria are not being met. Processing areas used in the preparation of ready to eat foods must also be monitored for Listeria monocytogenes.

Sampling plans are in the Regulation where Limits, number of samples within a batch, action levels and total maximum levels of bacterial content are defined relative to weights of samples taken and regions of the carcass where the samples are obtained from.

Speedy Breedy is ideal for Salmonella monitoring since it needs to be absent from 10g or 25g of product and Speedy Breedy is an excellent, quick  binary answer, simple to operate for personnel on the factory floor with minimal training required and able to be operated close to the meat  preparation area. Regulatory samples need to be taken weekly on different days and the incorporation of Speedy Breedy into the HACCP will give complete assurance that regulatory statutory samples will be well under control.

Regulatory criteria have been set for aerobic colony count, Enterobacteriaceae, Salmonella, E. coli and coagulase positive Staphylococci.  Speedy Breedy has culture medium and protocols for all these contaminants and E. coli quantification, where there are mixed cultures, has produced excellent results on a par with agar plating.  E. coli investigation is particularly valuable for burgers raw sausages and minced meat. With limits of  2 – 5.0 log cfu cm2 results from Speedy Breedy will be available well within the operational day resulting in slaughter hygiene improvements, better process control and better control measures relating to animal origin site.

The sampled carcass area or weighed meat sample would be homogenised with transport medium or ringers solution using a sterile bag with incorporated filter, 50ml of sample is transferred to a culture vessel containing encapsulated culture medium and the protocol initiated with simple push button operation on the Speedy Breedy, which due to its portability can be situated close to the meat preparation areas.

Further Reading
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/RECH_legislation.do?ihmlang=en.
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2002:031:0001:0024:EN:PDF

How can I find E. coli in food?

Escherichia coli or E. coli is a gram-negative bacterium which, depending on the strain, can cause mild to severe illness in humans. It can be found in the intestinal tracts of humans and many animals and therefore also in the environment. Sources of infection for humans include all kinds of food and can also occur from ingestion of water from contaminated sources such as lakes, streams and rivers.

E. coli is one of the most common causes of food-borne illness and as numerous food scandals over the past few years have shown, E. coli contamination can be found in numerous different environments and food groups, often without influencing their taste or smell.

The standard test for E. coli is to streak the sample on an agar plate filled with a selective medium followed by incubation at 36°C for 48hrs. After the incubation period the colonies have to be identified and counted by a trained microbiologist. This method is not only laborious, but requires specialist training and equipment. Other methods use polymerase chain reaction (PCR) which is fast but again a laboratory, specialised equipment and training is required and it also seems to be restricted to certain strains of E. coli.

So what to do when you need to be able to find viable E. coli in food products?

Speedy Breedy is the answer. It is an innovative bacterial respirometer which uses sealed vessels and an established selective medium (MacConkey’s broth) to test for E. coli. With its advanced non-invasive mixing and sensitive pressure sensing Speedy Breedy detects and graphically represents the growth of E. coli. Speedy Breedy can also be temperature controlled up to 45°C which is a selection factor for E. coli from other (sometimes harmless) coliform bacteria and therefore doing away with the need for expensive incubators.

Speedy Breedy is designed to be small (about as big as a loaf of bread) so that it can be used at the production site or anywhere where there is a flat, dry surface and access to mains electricity. It comes with a user friendly software which enables visualisation of the changes in pressure as E. coli grows and uses and produces different gases. If Speedy Breedy detects E. coli it is very clear from the graph that it is a positive result, but there are audible and visual alerts as well.

Speedy Breedy is so easy to use that even non-experts can test for E. coli in food products.

How do I test for bacterial or microbial contamination in raw ingredients in food?

Microbial contamination of food can have serious health consequences, causing food poisoning or more serious illnesses in worse cases. The implications of a food poisoning outbreak are severe for many parties, not only manufacturers but also retailers, regulators and consumers. Contamination in the food industry therefore has to be strictly controlled and measures need to be taken to prevent the possibility of contaminated products reaching consumers. Regulations are in place to monitor, control and prevent any microbial contamination events in a food manufacturing process and regulating bodies recommend the use of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) at all stages of the supply process. This preventative approach aims to identify and intercept contamination during the production process before the food product reaches consumers. In HACCP critical points are identified in the production chain and a regular testing mechanism is put in place. Bioburden testing includes general background microflora tests but also detailed testing for pathogenic species to ensure the absence of specific microorganisms in food such as Salmonella, E. coli and Pseudomonas spp.

Microbial contamination can have severe financial implications for manufacturers and retailers but further analysis indicates that the impact of illness also impacts heavily on healthcare systems and the general economy.

Contamination can occur at different stages in the production process and come from different sources. One of the major contamination sources, yet one of the most easily mitigated risks, are the raw ingredients that are put into the process. All raw ingredients should be tested for microbial contamination and if risks are identified the material can be treated for decontamination such as pasteurisation or can be discarded before jeopardising the manufacturing process.

A fast and simple contamination detection process is needed to get early warnings of the presence of harmful microorganisms. Speedy Breedy does exactly that; it is a portable microbial respirometer, which detects the presence of bacteria in a sample reliably and fast. Tests are carried out in sealed vessels where the sample is introduced long with growth media. Vessels pre-filled with dried media are available for a wide range of microbial organisms, including E. coli, Salmonella and Pseudomonas spp.

Speedy Breedy can be used for contamination testing of raw materials to efficiently prevent contamination at source and eliminates the need to send samples to a lab. With Speedy Breedy contamination tests can be done on-site and results obtained within a few hours.

An innovative screening method for beer spoilage organisms based on the detection of pressure change?

The increasing popularity of beer is making it inevitable that brewers must  maintain a high quality standard for  beer production to survive  this  competitive market.

Lactobacillus spp. and Pediococcus spp. are two of the most common types of Beer spoilage organisms found in the industry today. Additionally many wild yeast species are responsible for beer spoilage. These include Saccharomyces diastaticus, Geotrichium sp. and numerous Pichia species.

Some other problems prevalent are –

  • Biofilm formation in beer plants, which makes it very difficult to remove spoilage organisms.
  • Highly skilled lab staff are needed to microbiological analysis in specific quality control laboratories or at the breweries.
  • Most of them still use conventional microbiological methods to test the samples, which are very time consuming and take 5 to 7 days before results are obtained. This can delay   release of beer to the market.

Speedy Breedy, a rapid & portable microbial respirometer developed by Bactest solves these issues thereby leading to a faster product release of beer. Speedy Breedy can be used by relatively unskilled operatives anywhere in the brewery or lab environment. Further, although Speedy Breedy can operate in isolation, by linking Speedy Breedy to a PC, contamination tests can be visualised in near real time. An audit trail is produced as Speedy Breedy identifies each instrument and experiment with a unique coding.

Our tests and independent research by BRI Campden have proved that Speedy Breedy detects micro-organisms more rapidly in comparison to the traditional microbiology techniques. Particularly advantageous for the detection of anaerobic organisms such as lactic acid bacteria which normally takes 5-7 days, Speedy Breedy allowed detection of Lactobacillus brevis and Pediococcus damnosus within 27-38 hours (~2,000 cells/ml) and is sensitive to detect 2-5 bacterial cells/ml.

How does Speedy Breedy detect?

Speedy Breedy comes with two – temperature controlled testing chambers where disposable vessels filled with the sample and culture media are incubated.

These vessels are designed specifically for expediting the reproduction of bacteria which enables the gaseous exchange.  As the microbes grow, reproduce, metabolise nutrients and respire, gas composition in the culture medium changes.

This gaseous exchange causes a pressure change and Speedy Breedy measures the net difference in gas used or produced by respiratory activity.

Further Reading
Campden BRI Brewing Report

How can wild yeasts be identified in beer products?

Wild yeasts are any yeast not deliberately used in the beer making process and not under the control of the brewer. They can be harder to detect and harder to control than bacteria.

The presence of wild yeasts indicates an uncontrolled process, an unwanted contamination and non-sanitary procedures and can produce a number of significant problems in beer:

  • Wild yeast often flocculate and sediment poorly causing haze and turbidity and may be less sensitive to fining.
  • In the presence of air, some wild yeast can grow rapidly and form a film on the surface of the beer. They can also cause haze.
  • Wild yeast may be able to ferment sugars that normal cultured yeast cannot (like maltotetraose and dextrins), which can lead to significantly lower terminal gravities, higher alcohol content, and in some cases off flavours.
  • Each yeast produces a different flavour profile because of differences in ester, fusel alcohol, and di-ketone production and because of other metabolic processes. Any yeast not intended to be in the beer can produce unintended flavours. Non-Saccharomyces yeast may produce radically different flavours in beer, and even very low concentrations of some yeast may have dramatic effects on beer flavour. Also, some wild yeast strains, such as Brettanomyces, may take as long as six to eight weeks before they begin to produce off-flavours. This can be a serious problem in packaged beer, which may be out in the market for many days before consumption.

Detection

Although quick and easy, microscopic examination is of limited use because a very high rate of contamination must be present to be able to see the offending yeast and because the contaminating yeast must be morphologically different from the cultured yeast.

Culture methods and selective media are widely used in the brewing industry. They offer a simple and effective way to check for wild yeast contamination and several types of media have been developed to detect wild yeasts.

Recent study by the Brewing Research Institute

In a recent study by the Brewing Research Institute Speedy Breedy respirometer technology developed by Bactest was investigated as a potential tool for the rapid detection of contaminant micro-organisms encountered in a brewing environment.

A number of wild yeast species were cultivated and several cell concentrations analysed for their cell counts by traditional microbiology, via growth on agar plates, as well as by Speedy Breedy.

At concentrations ~3×103 to ~2×104 cells/ml the yeast species tested here (Saccharomyces diastaticus, Pichia kudriavzevii, Pichia membranifaciens, Geotrichium sp. S122, Pichia farinosa, Pichia anomala) were detected within 11-49 hours. Agar based methods require an incubation period of 3-5 days for detection of aerobic micro-organisms (including yeast). Thus, Speedy Breedy is able to detect the presence of yeast more quickly at this cell concentration, in some cases in less than a day. Not only were the different yeast species detected at different times (relating to the first change in pressure in the Speedy Breedy vessel) but they also exhibited different pressure profiles indicating that the yeast species differed in their metabolism and excretion of gas.

Further Reading
Campden BRI Brewing Report

What screening methods can I use to shorten positive release of beer?

The 2013 update of the IBISWorld report on the beer industry estimates that the UK market, despite a suggested decline, still has revenues totalling approximately £7.9 billion per annum.

At the heart of a successful brand is a drinking experience that the consumer is loyal to and whilst a large part of the attraction to a brand will be the design and marketing, it is the drinking experience, the flavours and aromas associated with a brand, that the consumer aligns themselves with.

Supplying the consumer with a poor quality product risks impacting on brand loyalty and unlike Quality Control processes for many food and beverage products, the brewing industry is not only interested in ensuring the consumer is safe from harmful contaminants, but that the brew itself is true to the brand and safe from spoilage organisms.

Aside from the brewing yeast, there are some key organisms that affect the quality of the finished product in the brewing process, either as spoilage organisms (such as Lactobacillus or wild yeasts) or as non-spoilage contaminants (such as Escherichia coli and Bacillus).

Rapid Testing & Shortening Positive Release

Quality Control testing can take time. Transport of samples to a laboratory and prolonged incubation periods for traditional microbiological techniques both add to this time frame and if operating positive release procedures this adds to the time and cost of storing inventory, as well impacting cash flow.

Speedy Breedy is a portable microbial respirometer designed to rapidly identify microbial contamination caused by bacteria and yeasts and can be specifically used to identify common contamination-causing organisms in the brewing industry.

Patented sensor technology within Speedy Breedy can detect microbial contamination significantly faster than standard microbiology techniques, reducing typical laboratory detection times by several days.

A simple, approachable, plug-and-play type design means that Speedy Breedy can be operated by on-site staff without the need for microbiology experience or laboratory equipment and so saving even more time by eliminating the delays in sending samples to the laboratory.

As Speedy Breedy operates in real time, the user will be notified of contamination as soon as it is detected, allowing more rapid commencement of corrective measures. If no contamination is found by the end of a test protocol, stock can be released without delay.

Recording not only analytical data but operational data as well, Speedy Breedy can also be used to provide full audit trails and be incorporated into a HACCP system.

Further Reading
Speedy Breedy Specification
IBISWorld Beer Production in the UK : Market Research Report, June 2013, available from www.ibisworld.com, summarised in various news articles including http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/6/prweb10877915.htm
Samamoto, K. & Konings, W.N. (2003) Beer spoilage bacteria and hop resistance. International Journal of Food Microbiology. Vol 89, pp. 105-124.
Campden BRI (2008) Microbial Update : Brewing. Internationa Food Hygiene. Vol 19, pp
Campden BRI Brewing Report

How can I reduce equipment down time in my brewery?

Modern production lines, from cars to kegs, are examples of well-oiled engineering masterpieces, from the computing technology that regulates volumes dispensed into bottles, to the large vessels into which pitching yeast is added to ensure efficient fermentation.

In an industry generating upwards of £18 billion per annum in sales in the UK, with an estimated 25 million drinkers, it is in nobody’s interest if production comes to a stop.

Microbiology & Brewing

The brewing process introduces another source of complexity to production, not seen in every industry – biological complexity. With yeasts at the heart of alcoholic fermentation and a number of types of bacteria and yeast capable of spoiling a brew, brewers are very familiar with the importance of microorganisms.

Whilst most microorganisms cannot tolerate the relatively high alcohol, low pH and oxygen-low environment of brewing, there are some that can. Contamination can lead to significant failures in quality control and brand consistency with spoilage of the flavour, aroma and appearance of a brew.

Most contamination can be sourced back to raw ingredients, failures in sterilisation processes and / or poor hygiene control. Once found, contamination needs to be tackled with sterilisation and cleaning processes and the success of these must be confirmed before confidently using equipment again in the brewing process.

Identifying, Pin-Pointing & Tackling Contamination

Initial contamination detection, subsequent assessment of all critical control points to confirm the source of contamination and finally testing the success of sterilisation procedures all require taking samples and completing microbiology tests.

Standard tests for microbial activity, particularly for some of the key brewing contaminants, can take several days using traditional laboratory culture techniques. This can soon add up to significant down time and therefore business cost. Some time may be saved by recommencing use of equipment immediately following sterilisation processes although there is the risk that laboratory results subsequently show that these processes have failed and further time and raw ingredients are wasted.

Rapid Identification & Contamination Assessment

Speedy Breedy is a portable microbial respirometer that can be used to rapidly identify bacterial and yeast contamination from finished products, raw ingredients or swabs and washes taken from contaminated equipment. Designed to be easy-to-use and approachable, Speedy Breedy can be operated by on-site staff without the need for microbiology experience or large laboratory equipment.

Independently assessed by the UK’s Brewing Research Institute, patented sensor technology within Speedy Breedy can detect microbial contamination significantly faster than standard microbiology techniques (days quicker) and also provides highly sensitive detection (single organisms in a 50ml sample).

 

Further Reading
Speedy Breedy Specification
Campden BRI Brewing Report
Institute of Brewing & Distilling – Beer Academy (Reviewed 2013) Beer Market UK. Available from http://www.beeracademy.co.uk/beer-info/beer-market/
Samamoto, K. & Konings, W.N. (2003) Beer spoilage bacteria and hop resistance. International Journal of Food Microbiology. Vol 89, pp. 105-124.
Campden BRI (2008) Microbial Update : Brewing. Internationa Food Hygiene. Vol 19, pp

How can I test for microbial contamination in brewing?

The June 2013 IBISWorld update reporting on the beer industry estimates that in the UK the market shows revenue of approximately £7.9 billion per annum. The report also highlights that the number of breweries in the UK has grown to a 70 year high.

Microbial Activity : Good & Bad

A key ingredient in any brewing process is the strain of yeast chosen by the brewer. Along with the malt and hops, this will contribute to the flavour and composition of the beer. Microbes, then, are a key to a successful brewery. The partnership between microbiology and brewing, however, doesn’t just end with the brewer’s yeast.

There are a number of microbes that can contaminate the brew and affect its chemical composition. Such contamination can affect the performance of the brewing yeast and cause noticeable changes in acidity, aroma and colour (turbidity), which may render a contaminated brew unusable.

  • Lactic Acid Bacteria (Lactobacillus spp., Pediococcus spp.)
  • Acetic Acid Bacteria (Acetobacter spp., Gluconobacter spp.)
  • Gram Negative Bacteria (Pectinatus spp., Megasphaera spp.)
  • Wild Yeasts

Contamination can occur at various points in the production process from addition of raw materials to the bottling and canning process.

Investigating Microbial Contamination

A robust quality control (QC) program is essential to ensure spoilage control measures are effective and to check the quality of stock before release. Standard microbiology techniques can require several days for detection, whilst some brewers will not have direct access to appropriate microbial testing facilities and will need to out-source such testing. This contributes to a lag time between completion of the brew and distribution.

Speedy Breedy is a portable microbial respirometer that can be used to rapidly identify bacterial and yeast contamination in samples. Speedy Breedy can be operated by on-site staff without the need for microbiology experience or laboratory equipment, with a strong focus on ease-of-use and ease-of-interpretation.

Courtesy of patented sensor technology, Speedy Breedy can detect microbial contamination significantly faster than standard microbiology techniques. Operating in real time an alert can be given to the operator as soon as contamination is detected allowing for more immediate initiation of appropriate control measures at the brewery, or for the earlier release of stock awaiting QC checks.

Despite the IBISWorld report suggesting a market with more brewers than ever, the report also highlights low growth in recent years for a variety of reasons. With this in mind it is important for brewers to be running in an efficient and cost effective manner and time and labour saving devices can be key to achieving this.

Further Reading
Speedy Breedy Specification
IBISWorld Beer Production in the UK : Market Research Report, June 2013, available from www.ibisworld.com, summarised in various news articles including http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/6/prweb10877915.htm
Samamoto, K. & Konings, W.N. (2003) Beer spoilage bacteria and hop resistance. International Journal of Food Microbiology. Vol 89, pp. 105-124.
Campden BRI (2008) Microbial Update : Brewing. Internationa Food Hygiene. Vol 19, pp
Campden BRI Brewing Report

How can I reduce the cost and incidence of paint product recall due to bacterial contamination?

Bacterial contamination can cause colour and odour issues with water based paint products so a fast and reliable contamination detection device is highly desirable to provide early warning of contamination in paint before reaching the customer because the economic implications of a spoilt batch are very high.

The presence of organic components on which bacteria can feed and grow in water-based paint makes these products vulnerable to bacterial contamination. This can come from several sources in the paint manufacturing process, such as contaminated raw materials or process water as well as ineffective or incorrect dosage of biocides.

In order to reduce batch failures and product recalls one of the key elements is to monitor microbial contamination and microbial load in the manufacturing process which is imperative in determining whether interventions are required to reduce microbial load at critical points.

Quality in paint manufacture can be monitored in several ways however  two methods routinely used are hygiene and critical point monitoring and secondly, materials and end product. By monitoring critical points, and ensuring that there is a high standard of control of materials, personnel, process and hygiene, the overall quality of the process from end to end can be viewed. This influences the quality of the end product and the risk of a product recall.

Speedy Breedy is a portable microbial respirometer which rapidly and reliably detects the presence of microbial contamination in a paint sample. Speedy Breedy is the answer to detecting contamination before, during and after paint manufacturing, or monitoring the manufacturing process, efficiently and on-site. Speedy Breedy can be used for contamination testing of raw materials to prevent contamination at source but it can also be used to monitor the paint manufacturing process  by measuring the bacterial load at critical points in manufacturing, such as before and after each process, addition of biocides or before canning of the final product. Speedy Breedy can also assess the degree of contamination which helps in monitoring the risk of failure and the status of the manufacturing process over time.

Predicting or confirming shelf-life is also possible since Speedy Breedy can also monitor the effectiveness of biocides that are added to suppress contamination. Being a portable on-site device Speedy Breedy can be used directly on the plant to generate results very quickly in order to assess risk and take remedial action where necessary.

Speedy Breedy is the ideal rapid, portable test for bacterial contamination in paint, reducing the cost and incidence of paint product recall due to bacterial contamination.

How can I optimise my anaerobic digestion feed?

There is an impending need worldwide to reduce the volumes of waste sent to landfill and realise the full potential of waste materials. Regulatory incentives are currently being introduced to promote sustainable waste management practices, such as the landfill directive in the EU, which aims to divert all reusable or degradable waste from landfill (DEFRA, 2010). An attractive alternative disposal route for organic waste is anaerobic digestion, a process through which material is degraded in the absence of oxygen to generate methane, carbon dioxide and a digestate.

Anaerobic digestion is currently attracting great interest in the waste management context given its potential for biogas generation and hence heat, electricity and revenue generation. The digestate resulting from anaerobic digestion can also be further utilised; it is a valuable fertiliser given its high nutrient content. Anaerobic digestion also effectively results in the elimination of waste since the output of the process is seen as a marketable product.

Anaerobic digestion achieves the degradation of organic material into its constituent nutrients through the action of several bacterial groups, which require nutrient themselves for their metabolism and growth. The most important macronutrients for bacterial activity are carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus. A sufficient amount and good balance between these nutrients must be kept to ensure efficient bacterial activity in the digester. It is therefore of prime importance to optimise the feed composition going into an anaerobic digestion process to generate the maximum biogas yield.

Given the symbiotic action of the bacteria involved in the anaerobic digestion process, it is hard to model or predict the behaviour of a digester and so currently feed optimisation is usually carried out mostly on a trial and error base. This however can be a costly process if carried out at full scale since digesters usually have high working volumes and so process failure can result in a significant reduction in biogas production and hence revenue loss.

Ideally feed composition optimisation should therefore be carried out on a smaller scale to reduce the financial implications of process imbalance or failure. Speedy Breedy is the ideal device for this application, a microbial respirometer that detects pressure changes in sealed 50mL working volume vessels. It is made up of 2 reaction chambers in which temperature can be controlled and monitored, and gas production in the vessel can directly be seen on the software interface associated with the device. The vessels can therefore act as miniature digesters, in which different feed compositions or potentially toxic agents can be tested on a small scale with minimal financial or process implications.

How can I test raw ingredients in paint manufacture?

Paint manufacture like most other manufacturing processes using organic or liquid materials is affected by microbial contamination. Not only is it important to test if the end product adheres to the standards set, but also raw ingredients need to be tested in order to identify the source of contamination. If contamination is unavoidable, testing samples is an important procedure to detect a potential decontamination failure and in later stages check if the biocide is working.

As the ingredients in paint vary in consistency finding a single, cheap test which can test all the raw ingredients can be very difficult especially without sending the samples to a lab. Quick-indicator tests are often unable to distinguish between live and dead bacteria which makes testing for biocide efficacy very difficult.

However, there is a solution. Speedy Breedy is a new instrument which can help you test your paint raw ingredients in a very simple manner. It is quick and easy, it doesn’t require specialist training or a lot of space.

How Does it Work?

Speedy Breedy uses growth medium in sealed vessels, temperature control and continuous non-invasive mixing to encourage bacteria to multiply as quickly as possible. Speedy Breedy also takes advantage of the fact that bacteria respire like all living things to detect their presence. Once bacteria are present in sufficient numbers and use and produce enough gases to result in a pressure change, a positive result is recorded by Speedy Breedy and an audible and visual alarm is given.

So simply add your sample to a pre-filled vessel, chose one of the pre-programmed protocols, press start and wait for your result.

Why Should I Choose Speedy Breedy?

Speedy Breedy as the name suggests is very fast, much faster than conventional culture techniques. Where normal methods can take up to 3 days to identify 1cfu E. coli, Speedy has detected a single colony forming unit in just under 10:30hrs.

With Speedy Breedy software results can be visualised in real time, data can be analysed and stored and protocols written and customised.

Speedy Breedy lets you test your raw ingredients for paint on your terms, without outsourcing it and without expert knowledge. Speedy Breedy makes contamination testing simple, fast and flexible.

How can I find out if the biocide is working in paint?

Water-based paint is susceptible to bacterial contamination due to its aqueous nature and organic components which provide the ideal environment for many bacteria to grow and multiply. The presence of bacteria can interfere with the final paint properties and change its physical and chemical properties resulting in a spoilt product. A contaminated batch of paint has great economic consequences for paint manufacturers given the cost of the raw materials, production effort and man hours wasted, as well as the logistics of product recall. Perhaps even more importantly a contaminated batch has a detrimental effect on the brand’s reputation and customer confidence in the paint manufacturer. It is therefore critical for paint manufacturers to prevent bacterial contamination and monitor the effectiveness of the anti-bacterial measures applied throughout the production process and product storage.

Bacterial contamination can occur during the paint manufacturing process but can also develop during storage after canning. The addition of biocides (agents that kill bacteria) is the only effective way to prevent the proliferation of bacteria and maintain an environment hostile to bacterial growth to ensure a satisfactory shelf life after canning. It is therefore essential to ensure that biocides are effective and present in the right concentrations.

Tests to find out if biocides are working are currently usually done in the laboratory, most often off-site. Samples are taken in the paint factory and sent to a microbiology lab, where bacterial cultures are set up. Results are then sent back to the facility, the whole process taking several days.

Speedy Breedy is a portable microbial respirometer, which is ideal for monitoring the efficacy of biocides by providing a quick and easy way to test for the presence of bacteria in paint samples. Speedy Breedy can be used on-site and results obtained within a few hours. If a contamination issue or potential contamination risk is detected measures can be taken directly on site, making response time much shorter and hence reducing or even eliminating consequences.

Speedy Breedy has two chambers that can run in parallel and so is very well suited for testing the efficacy of biocides: a control sample can be tested in one chamber and another sample with biocide in the other chamber. Ideally the chamber with paint containing biocide should give a negative result and can be directly compared to the sample without biocide.

How can I monitor the efficacy of biocides in paint?

Water-based paint is vulnerable to bacterial contamination due to its organic components on which bacteria can feed and grow. Contamination can come from several sources in the paint manufacturing process, such as contaminated raw materials or process water as well as ineffective or incorrect dosage of biocides. The financial implications of a spoilt paint batch are very high so a fast and reliable contamination detection device is highly desirable to provide early contamination warnings.

To find out if biocide is working in paint (or other materials), Speedy Breedy can be used to monitor biocide effect on the contaminating organisms. By adding a sample of paint or other material containing biocide to a Speedy Breedy vessel containing a nutrient (supplied ready to use), growth of any contaminating organisms will be enhanced and then detected as a significant pressure change within the vessel.

Speedy Breedy can determine the amount and growth rate of contamination in paint by using the time to detection as a measure. Large amounts of contamination growing rapidly will be detected much earlier than small numbers or slow growing organisms.

Where biocide is used to suppress microbial growth (e.g. in paint) the organisms will grow very slowly and the time to detection in Speedy Breedy will be very long. There may be no growth at all and organisms will not be detected. Where biocide is ineffective, at too low a concentration, or where biocide has broken down, its effect can be overcome by the microbes which will then flourish and grow rapidly. When this happens, Speedy Breedy will detect the contamination very quickly.

By monitoring the time to detection in the paint product, a degree of understanding can be gained with regard to the effectiveness of the biocide. Further tests can be performed by diluting the sample (and biocide) to see at what dilution the efficacy of the biocide falls off and the microbes become active. Again this gives a good indicator of biocide activity.

For quality control purposes, known species or numbers of organisms can be spiked into paint samples to monitor the effects of the biocide in order to generate a set of standards for the time to detection of commonly found microbes. These times can then be used in conjunction with test results to see how effective biocide is in actual paint products.

How can I check the efficacy of ballast water decontamination?

Established in 2012 and a result of over two decades of research and regulation of the introduction of non-indigenous species into water bodies, the United States Coast Guard formalised their Ballast Water Discharge Standard as a measure by which incoming shipping traffic and ballast water management systems should adhere to.

Seen as a significant potential source of introducing non-indigenous species into (and therefore unbalancing) US marine ecosystems, ballast water can act as a source of both macroscopic and microscopic organisms from waters from around the globe.

A variety of recognised ballast water treatment types exist including filtration, heat treatment, ultrasound treatment or the use of chemical or UV treatment. Any methods must be shown to have adequately treated the ballast water to the levels laid down in the 2012 Ballast Water Discharge Standard.

Whether responsible for adherence of a ship, adherence of a treatment system or regulatory checking of ships, confirmation and validation of the success of ballast water treatment is important.

Rapid Confirmation of Ballast Water Decontamination
At a microbiological level, confirmation of a successful treatment will be performed by trained technicians in a fully equipped laboratory, requiring the transport of samples to the laboratory and the culture, incubation, identification and enumeration of any microbial contaminants. This can be a time consuming process lasting several days.

Speedy Breedy is a portable microbial respirometer that uses patented and highly sensitive detection technology to facilitate the rapid detection of bacterial growth when compared to the turn-around associated with standard culture methods.

Capable of detecting heavy contamination levels in a number of hours, rather than days and able to detect single organisms within a sample, Speedy Breedy is both sensitive and rapid.

This powerful detection system is coupled with a simple, small, easy-to-use, portable and robust design. This makes Speedy Breedy an ideal solution for microbial testing in the field, without the need for experienced technicians or large laboratory equipment.

Speedy Breedy easily installs alongside treatment equipment, can be effortlessly stored on-board a vessel or with a port authority and is a highly cost effective, rapid and simple approach to ensure that ballast water discharge is adhering to regulatory guidelines.

Further reading
SeaSure Website
Speedy Breedy Data Sheet
Ballast Water Application Note
Ballast Water testing using Speedy Breedy
United States Coast Guard (2012) Ballast Water Discharge Standard
Great Lakes Commission (2013) Status of Ballast Water Discharge Regulations in the Great Lakes Region

How do I assess the risk of contamination before re-connection after a water mains burst?

A mains burst is an inconvenient event for both water companies and customers. Emergency repairs present the greatest risks of introducing contamination into the public water supply system. Having a water safety plan (WSP) is the most effective way of ensuring that a water supply is safe for human consumption and that it meets the health base standards and other regulatory requirements.

DWI guidelines recommend that a WSP has 3 key components:
A system assessment: to determine whether the water supply chain and deliver water that meets health based targets, identifying potential hazards and control measures for identified risks
Operational Monitoring: for each control measure to identify any deviation from required performance
Documentation of Management Arrangements: that includes details of system assessment in both normal and incident conditions.

Hazard Identification
Part of the WSP process is hazard identification. Local hazards may come from polluted raw water from point discharges such as sewage, septic tank and industrial effluents, storm water overflows, overflows from active and closed mines, landfill sites and animal grazing run off.

Where a risk of faecal contamination has been identified water samples are taken and sent to a laboratory for analysis and appropriate disinfection procedures put into place before re-connection.

Water companies have to balance the risk of contamination with the problem of interrupted supply to customers. One way of shortening the time a water supply mains is down is to test for water contamination at source in parallel to sending samples to a lab.

Speedy Breedy is a portable microbial respirometer that can be used by water companies on location in parallel with sending samples to a lab. Speedy Breedy is able to identify just 1 E.coli cfu in 50 mls of water in 10 hours. Where contamination is higher time to detection is much faster.

Where Speedy Breedy alarms for contamination in the water supply, disinfecting procedures can be put in place immediately sometimes days before results come back from the lab. This shortens the time to reconnect the water supply and/or lift a boil notice whilst reducing customer inconvenience and the number of water boil alerts.

Conversely where Speedy Breedy does not alarm for contamination water companies can use this data as part of their risk mitigation analysis and due diligence prior to reconnecting the water supply.

Further Reading
Lab Memos
Speedy Breedy Specification
Application Notes

How do I test for contamination in process water?

Process water has many different qualities dependent upon the product or product stage using the water. As an example, process water may be used solely as a coolant and circulate in a sealed system. If the process water is isolated from the process its quality doesn’t need to be as stringent as those processes where there is a likelihood of coming into contact with the product.

In all cases bacteriological quality is a concern and monitoring of process water for bacteriological quality can have many benefits in terms of final product quality, time and money. A common theme with monitoring water quality is to look for a rate of change or change itself from the expected norm.

Speedy Breedy can monitor indicator organisms that will tell an operator if there is a change taking place. Speedy Breedy can also monitor critical quality levels over which the process water mustn’t be used and in fact Speedy Breedy can give control standards and assurance that the process water is fit for re-use or first time use.

A good example are Pseudomonads, which can be monitored with Speedy Breedy and are associated with pipe corrosion. Another common interpreted use for Pseudomonad levels is as an indicator that the process water could harbour potentially harmful bacteria such as legionella organisms. Environmental organisms present in process water can be picked up using general culture media such as Tryptone Soy Broth (TSB), a media that uses the pancreatic digest of casein and the soy peptone quoted as a medium for detecting low level contamination by aerobic bacteria and fungi. Specific media for Pseudomonas aeroginosa can also be supplied

To test the bacteriological quality of process water a 50 ml sample is transferred into a culture vessel containing TSB capsules which can pick up aerobes, facultative anaerobes , microaerophilic/aerotolerant  microbes and yeasts and incubated at 36°c. The time to detection will be dependent upon the amount of contamination present in the process water and can be directly correlated to the quality of the water. More specific testing protocols for micro contaminants can be advised dependent upon the use or re-use of the process water.

A typical use for process water would be following up CIP processes to check the efficacy of pigging distributed product lines or the use of chemical cleaning agents and disinfectants in the cleaned product lines. Additionally the wash out process for CIP can be checked to ensure no residual chemicals are left using a protocol from Speedy Breedy and the bacterial content of a test bacterium.

Further Reading
Speedy Breedy Specification
Speedy Breedy Application Note 1
Lab Memos

What is the purpose of a rapid/portable test for fecal contamination in reservoirs?

Microbiological testing of reservoirs is largely undertaken in the laboratory. Reservoir sampling is a means of assessing the ingress of polluting water from streams and pumped sources, bacterial die-off, the effect of destratification and the efficacy of chemical dosing. Reservoirs are often situated in remote locations and the time lapse cycle between sampling, results and further investigation can often be too lengthy to be of direct operational use and consideration may be given to use of some form of portable analysis.

Fecal coliforms have direct correlation to the events above and are exceedingly useful indicators that can have a direct bearing on treatment plant operational decisions, driving the need for timely evaluation of reservoir changes .Speedy Breedy can give analytical fecal results in hours, maximising the investigation time spent on site and furthering investigational decisions to aid smooth operation of the downstream treatment plant – often  lowering treatment plant challenges and cost of treatment or aiding management of risk whilst improving final water quality leaving the treatment plant. The ability to effectively manage the reservoir can often have hidden benefits on distribution quality – lowering Assimilable Organic Carbon (AOC) in distribution systems with knock on advantages of reduced bacterial regrowth, corrosion and discolouration.

The increased ease of carrying out the reservoir management with direct operational benefits can offer access to an area of worthwhile process work that is often ignored or seldom carried out due to the reasons highlighted and can deliver real benefits in quality, risk and cost. Customer satisfaction levels can be enhanced due to the option of lowered final water chlorination levels, the risk of operating at lower chlorination levels is mitigated and the use of treatment chemicals can be reduced at the reservoir storage part of treatment, the raw water treatment and of course within the treatment process itself.

Further Reading
Speedy Breedy Datasheets

Portable instrument for water testing

Speedy Breedy is a portable microbiological analytical instrument. Although initially set up with a PC and with live and historical experiments  viewed from a PC or laptop Speedy Breedy is very much a field use, portable instrument. 

Powered by a 12v car or van auxiliary power feed, Speedy Breedy’s operation is very user friendly and minimal training and microbiology knowledge is necessary for its successful operational use. Travelling time to and from sites is negated with an organised set-up on location or in the van and of course laboratory visits become unnecessary or at the very least minimised when bacteriological data is required.

Water testing is very reliant on bacteriological tests and of course for potability as far as coliforms are concerned a simple yes/no answer is available in 6 to 11 hours making operational decisions very efficient and offering large cost savings due to false alarms or on-going contingency measures.

Work has been carried out demonstrating that as a portable instrument quantitative coliform and E. coli enumeration can also be obtained – imagine the time, cost and organisational savings for operational staff involved in incidents when such a portable instrument can be used anywhere in the field!

Increasingly Pseudomonads in water are a concern for infection control units in hospitals and care homes. Now the necessary tests can be carried out in-situ giving assured monitoring on site and offering increased protection to patients that are vulnerable through suppressed immune systems – cancer sufferers, the elderly and in particular babies in neo-natal care.

Pseudomonads site data is increasingly of use to contractors and operators responsible for air-conditioning circuit “fills” since regulation requires use of water with very low levels of these organisms present. Operational use of Speedy Breedy as a portable instrument on site can save contracting time and the timely return of assets on line.

Speedy Breedy also caters for the needs of clients that require more sensitive potability tests. Enterococci can,for example, also be screened offering pre and post evaluation of treatment plants serving municipal and private premises and serving large and very small populations. Cost effective assurance is available 24/7 to enable water treatment efficacy to be determined independent of a laboratory and significant microbiology expertise.

Further Reading
Speedy Breedy Specification
Speedy Breedy Application Note 1
Lab Memos

How to test for contamination in wells?

Often treatment of raw well water is limited to simple chlorination and filtration through sand cylinders under pressure.  Commonly the raw water will contain dissolved iron and dissolved gas, hydrogen sulphide, both of which can use the chlorine, present primarily as a disinfectant and lower its effectiveness in dealing with any change in the level of bacteriological pollutants. One of the best lines of defence when using well water is to keep historical data, enabling tracking of raw water quality so that the onset of any changes due to the ingress of water from land run off can be dealt with whilst further investigation is carried out. Speedy Breedy is the ideal tool to detect bacteriological contamination in well water because it is fast, reliable, easy to use and allows you to store the data of your experiments with date and time stamps, making tracking information over time very easy.

Coliform bacteria are used as a common indicator of pollution in water, the bacteria themselves are always assumed to be associated with  human fecal pollution but of course the bacteria also offer a very sensitive test for water quality changes that may include a rise in chemical pollution ( the presence of bacteria acting as a warning in this context). Coliform bacteria can be identified in 6 to 11 hours dependent upon the levels of pollution encountered. Speedy Breedy can even detect single coliforms. Speedy Breedy works by using selective media to grow bacteria associated with pathogens  which are considered to be of fecal origin from a water sample.

Speedy Breedy has demonstrated that it can pick up coliform bacteria in the presence of other mixed cultures and that it can also positively identify E. coli, a coliform bacterium and human pathogen which can cause serious illness in humans and some strains can cause fatal disease in children, elderly people or people with suppressed immune systems. Speed Speedy Breedy has been demonstrated to be as quantitative as agar plates in the detection of E.Coli in the presence of other environmental organisms

The media used is MacConkey’s and it is pre-loaded in capsules into the sterile culture vessels. With a small amount of knowledge or training on how to take a sample and transfer it without introducing contamination into a culture vessel the use of bacteriological monitoring is easily available to those concerned with the safe and effective operation of well water supplies. This can apply to municipals, private bore hole supplies and of course single dwellings dependent upon well water. The occurrence of bacterial pollution is detected by simply inserting the culture vessel into Speedy Breedy, selecting the appropriate protocol for coliforms or E. coli and Speedy Breedy will identify automatically if coliforms are present. When connected to a PC the identification event can be readily seen and typical growth curves give assurance that the tests are operating normally. If Speedy Breedy is used without PC connection audible alarms and screen data indicate the outcome of a positive identification within just a few hours.

Further Reading
Speedy Breedy Specification
Speedy Breedy Application Note 1
Lab Memos
Speedy Breedy Trials

How can I detect Coliforms in potable water?

Water quality and contamination in drinking water is a serious issue due to the potential for disease outbreaks from water borne bacteria such as typhoid and cholera. Coliform bacteria, although mostly non-pathogenic (disease causing) are widely used as an indicator for contamination with potentially pathogenic bacteria such as some strains of E. coli

The standard lab method for testing for coliform detection in potable water is using MacConkey’s agar or broth. MacConkey’s medium is selective for bacteria tolerant to bile salts and it further selects for bacteria which can ferment lactose with a colour change from purple to yellow. Therefore bacterial growth and a colour change to yellow at 36°C within 48hr is generally accepted to be indicative of Coliform growth.

However, like most methods of testing for Coliforms in drinking water this is time and labour intensive and require a lot of specialist equipment and training. Many of the tests also need a laboratory environment and cannot be conducted on site.

Instead of taking samples and sending them off to a lab via a courier, detecting Coliforms in potable water is made easy with Speedy Breedy. It puts the control and the testing into the hands of the people who are already on the site. It cuts out the middle man and costly time delays.

With Speedy Breedy simply add 50ml of the water sample into a vessel already pre-filled with capsulated MacConkeys’s medium. Then insert the vessel into Speedy Breedy, choose the Coliform program and press start. If Speedy Breedy is connected to a laptop or PC the microbial activity can be visualised in real time. It is very obvious if a test is positive and this can be seen on the graph. However if Speedy Breedy is working stand-alone a visual and audible alarm sounds when a significant pressure event and therefore microbial activity is detected.

Depending on the degree of contamination, Speedy Breedy will give a result in around 6-12 hours, which is at least 12 hours faster than a standard laboratory test, not including the time it takes to transfer the sample to the laboratory.

Speedy Breedy is the ideal fast and reliable test to detect Coliforms in potable water.

How can I check for the absence of contamination after a disinfection failure?

Disinfection may be used as a safety measure if there is low level bacteriological contamination in a potable raw water source and it may be used solely or with additional physical treatment. In both cases it is best to carry out regular monitoring to understand the level of contamination that the applied treatment is coping with so that recourse to fuller measures can be taken should a rapid change in the levels of bacteriological contamination occur. The purpose of regular monitoring is to understand precisely what the contamination means in context to historical performance when carried out specifically to check water quality following something like a disinfection failure.

Speedy Breedy is the ideal instrument for a rapid assurance check following bacteriological disinfection failure. All parts of the distribution system, including reservoirs and storage tanks can be checked in half the time a laboratory sample will take, ignoring the travel time to get a sample to a laboratory.

The most important bacteria to check presence and absence for are fecal contamination indicator organisms like coliforms or more sensitively enterococci which are environmentally more robust. Past pollution can also be checked by looking for spore formers such as Clostridium perfringens.  Speedy Breedy can be used for aerobic and anaerobic bacteria and has been demonstrated to be extremely effective for monitoring the bacteria mentioned.

Single numbers of coliform bacteria can be identified in less than 13 hours using Speedy Breedy and the use of MacConkey’s medium in culture vessels can give the added benefit of confirming the presence or absence of Escherichia coli by changing the colour of the medium from purple to yellow. E. coli has also been shown to produce linear correlation graphs and the use of Speedy Breedy is comparable to agar plating. Speedy Breedy can rapidly identify, significant numbers of fecal bacteria present, sometimes a result can be had in 6 to 7 hours.  The full effect of the loss of disinfection can then be traced throughout the distribution pipework, distribution reservoirs contact and storage tanks.  Contact times and CT values can be rapidly reinforced when disinfection is restored and as dynamic information as possible is required to minimise the follow up actions throughout the distribution system, be it small or large. In the case of public water supply undertakings the efficacy of remedial flushing and placing and lifting of boil notices can be readily audited for DWI Follow up investigations.

Operators in the field can return information in a time saving exercise with a minimal amount of training and a little van preparation beforehand. The Speedy Breedy units are designed to work in the field and the trained operatives simply transfer 50ml of sample to the culture vessels containing medium, press a button and the protocols that have been prewritten for such an event  give direction to the operatives out in the field. In the private water supply scenario only a little training is required and the protocol messages are easily understood by the trained lay person to bring about control of the potable water contamination that may or may not be present as a direct result of the loss of disinfection.

Further Reading
Speedy Breedy Specification
Speedy Breedy Application Note 1
Lab Memos

Is there a low cost test for contamination of drinking water in the third world?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that approximately 2.5 million lives are lost each year courtesy of diarrhoeal disease from contaminated drinking water sources, with the cost of life being greatest in young children under the age of 5. Just over 750 million people worldwide are considered to be lacking access to safe, clean drinking water.

In addition to the significant mortality impact, there are an estimated 1.7 billion cases of non-fatal diarrhoeal disease each year. Whilst cause of disease in non-fatal cases is not always easily identified, of all fatal cases of diarrhoea, an estimated 88% are associated with poor drinking water quality. Non-fatal cases are not only debilitating but in young children can have a detrimental impact on education initiatives in the poorest and worst educated communities, with children unable to attend school or local schemes due to their illness.

The Causes of and Detection of Water Contamination
Whilst there are non-bacterial causes of water-borne diarrhoea (chemical poisoning, parasitic infection), bacterial contamination is a significant contributor to the disease burden. Enteric pathogens, such as Escherichia coli, Shigella spp. and Vibrio cholera, spread by fecal-oral routes of transmission, are known to be key causative agents, with cholera cases in parts of the third world reportedly increasing.

The ability to preemptively identify contaminated drinking water, or in the event of an outbreak of diarrhoeal disease, rapidly track down contaminated water sources, can save lives.

Standard bacteriology techniques to assess contamination require access to an appropriately equipped laboratory and appropriately trained personnel. With water-borne diarrhoeal disease greatest in the poorest and most remote parts of the world, this is rarely a realistic option.

Speedy Breedy is a portable microbial respirometer. Specifically designed to be easy to use and have low resource and training requirements, Speedy Breedy, through its patented, sensitive detection system, can provide rapid results in a non-laboratory environment.

Trials have shown that Speed Breedy can detect low level contamination (just a single colony forming unit of E. coli) in just ten hours, where standard laboratory techniques may require at least twice this amount of time. Where contamination in the sample is greater, the time to detection is even shorter.

Simplicity not only makes the Speedy Breedy highly practical in the field, it also makes it cost effective to operate.

Further Reading
Speedy Breedy Specification
WHO Diarrhoeal Disease Fact Sheet No. 330 (April 2013) – (Available from www.who.int)
CDC Global Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Fact Sheet – (Available from www.cdc.gov)
Ashbolt, NJ (2004) Microbial Contamination of Drinking Water and Disease Outcomes in Developing Regions. Toxicology 198 (2004) 229 – 238
WHO Water Quality & Health Strategy 2013 – 2020 – (Available from www.who.int)
WHO / UNICEF : Progress on Sanitation & Drinking Water : 2013 Update – (Available from www.unicef.org)

Does Pseudomonas mask the presence of E. coli in water?

Pseudomonas flourishes in damp environments and has the ability to grow in a wide range of habitats due to its highly versatile nature. Pseudomonas is classically an aerobe but can grow anaerobically on occasion, particularly in biofilms. It is resistant to many antibiotics and can adapt to a range of temperature conditions. Pseudomonas is a common contaminant of water and therefore crops up  in a wide range of situations where water is used. This might be in drinking water, food preparation, or industrial applications such as paint, paper or pharmaceutical manufacture where water is part of the process or product.

Since water is the sample for many tests where Escherichia coli is the target organism as a marker of fecal contamination, questions have been asked as to whether Pseudomonas contamination in the sample can suppress the growth and detection of E. coli.  E. coli bacteria are a commonly used indicator of sanitary quality of foods and water.

In a common test favoured in Speedy Breedy, addition of a test sample to a selective culture medium, MacConkey broth, acid and gas production within 48 hours when incubated at 44°C (the fecal coliform test) is practically specific* for E. coli and indicative of fecal pollution in the sample.

A number of studies have been performed to assess the effect of Pseudomonas on the standard E. coli test in Speedy Breedy.

Studies were performed using Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Results of the studies indicated that lab strains of Pseudomonas aeruginosa will reproduce in MacConkey broth at 36 Deg C but do not grow at 44 deg C, meaning that the E. coli test should suppress this contamination. In light of the versatile nature of Pseudomonas sp. generally, studies went on to use surface water samples from streams and lakes. No Pseudomonas were cultured in Speedy Breedy suggesting that the risk of false positive is very low.

Further, we studied Pseudomonas and E. coli at 36 Deg C in MacConkey broth. Following inoculation of large numbers of Pseudomonas (5,000 cfu) with low numbers of E. coli (only 37 cfu) it was found that the detection of E. coli was unaffected with no change of detection time to the control which had no Pseudomonas. Additionally, when the final cultures were plated out, it was found that the pseudomonas had not increased in number, in fact decreased significantly while E. coli had grown exponentially to large numbers, completing the pressure event and colour change indicative of a positive in Speedy Breedy.

These studies give a high level of confidence that Pseudomonas is not a significant problem in Speedy Breedy’s E. coli test, furthermore a high false positive rate should not be expected.