Approved method for global bottled water safety
3M Food Safety announced May 21 that its Petrifilm Aqua Coliform Count Plate has received NF validation from France-based Assn. Francaise de Normalisation (AFNOR) for its ability to detect and enumerate colonies of E. coli and coliform bacteria in bottled water samples.
Validated against ISO 9308-1, the AFNOR certification confirms that the microbiological analysis of the indicator technology performs as well or better than conventional and more time-consuming reference methods. This compliance follows prior validation of the plates as a Performance Tested Method (PTM) in the U.S. under the guidelines of the Maryland-based AOAC Research Institute.
The technology was introduced globally in March 2011, offering bottled water processors a microbial testing tool that delivers simplicity, consistent performance, minimal storage and enhanced productivity, compared to reference methods that use bulkier media pads, disposable filter funnels and agar petri dishes.
The NF validation process is comprised of two phases. It starts with a preliminary study in which a single expert lab thoroughly tests the new technology protocol's effectiveness versus standard methods. Subsequently, a collaborative study occurs in which multiple laboratories compare the efficacy of both the new test method and reference method under defined conditions of reproducibility and repeatability. In the case of the Petrifilm Aqua Coliform Count Plate, secondary study results ultimately involved data from nine separate, independent laboratories in four countries.
"Safe water is obviously a global concern, and water bottlers everywhere need reliable methods of assurance against harmful organisms like coliform and E. coli," said Marie-Pierre Copin, 3M Food Safety regulatory affairs specialist in France.
In a separate analysis, in 292 food processing plants, it was determined that substituting traditional agar with 3M Petrifilm plates represented an 80% increase in technician productivity, as measured by tests per hour. That translates to a savings of 3.7 technician hours each day for companies, allowing time to be diverted to sampling, production monitoring, HACCP programming or other priorities.