“We can do more.” That’s what Nancy Meng, scientific affairs manager for 3M Food Safety, hopes Chinese food companies see, as China announced its intent to be carbon neutral by 2060 in September 2020.
When 3M™ Petrifilm™ Plates were awarded the Best Practice for Sustainable Development by the China Animal Health and Food Safety Alliance (CAFA) in 2021 – the recognition shed a light on the sustainable solutions 3M offers.
“It’s great knowing our products align with government goals,” Nancy affirms.
Vincent Shen, vice president of China-Hong Kong for 3M Health Care echoes: “At a time when China is accelerating its efforts to be carbon neutral, sustainability at the food safety and health levels are topics of great concern. 3M is committed to developing food safety products and solutions that lower the environmental burden.”
Food manufacturers frequently test for the presence of possible microorganisms that could affect their products. In fact, regulations often require it. Manufacturers test the environment where food is made or processed, the raw materials that go into the food, prototypes and the final product itself.
Some food manufacturers may use the agar method and prepare traditional Petri dishes, which is a lengthy process. Lab technicians mix media and agar, add water and adjust the pH of the medium. Then, technicians autoclave (heat) and temper (cool) the solution to ready it for a diluted food sample in the Petri dish. The shelf life of a pre-prepared agar Petri dish, which allows the lab to pass over this agar preparation process, is approximately four to six weeks. After the microorganisms in the Petri dish grow in an incubator, technicians count bacteria manually.
Ready-to-use 3M Petrifilm Plates have a shelf life of 18 months and help standardize and simplify microbial testing. Lab technicians hydrate 3M Petrifilm Plates with a diluted sample and can use an automatic reader to get a microbial count.
Beyond minimizing the manual labor of microbial testing, 3M Petrifilm Plates help reduce the raw materials and equipment required to prepare traditional Petri dishes. And that’s where food manufacturers seeking sustainable solutions come in.
1. Prepare media: Measure water and dehydrated media. Mix water and agar together and heat to boiling. Temper media in a water bath.
2. Dilute sample and plate
3. Pour tempered agar into plates, swirl to mix and let solidify
4. Add an overlay and let solidify. Invert plates and incubate for 24 hours
5. Manually count colonies
6. Add 2 days to subculture an isolated colony onto a non-selective agar medium, incubating for 24 hours. Test isolated colonies for oxidase reaction. Test oxidase negative colonies for glucose fermentation incubating for 24 hours
A study comparing the environmental impact of 3M Petrifilm Plates with traditional agar methods revealed that 3M Petrifilm Plates used 76 percent less energy, 79 percent less water, emitted 75 percent less greenhouse gas and produced 66 percent less waste in their preparation.
Like any industry, government-mandated procedures and protocols are there to help control food safety hazards to evaluate that food is safe for human consumption. Regulations vary from country to country. According to China’s Food Safety Law, finished products tested prior to public release must adhere to the national “GB Standard” – which, formerly, only sanctioned the agar method. Now, 3M China anticipates that 3M Petrifilm Plates will be added to the GB Standard as an acceptable test method in early 2022.
“We’re excited about what this award means for 3M China and for the Chinese food industry,” says Nancy.
“It’s great to see our solutions serving the dual purpose of keeping food safe and reducing environmental impact at the same time.”
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