Beverage Testing and Safety Developments
The International Society
of Beverage Technologists (ISBT)’s Alicyclobacillus (ACB)
Subcommittee is working to identify and validate rapid test methods for the
detection and enumeration of spoilage-causing ACB species, a problem that
causes medicinal off-flavoring by the production of guaicol, a naturally
“ACBs are particularly found, but not limited
to, low-acid juice or beverage containing juice or sugar or sugar forms,
such as sugar syrups, that are non-carbonated, heat- as opposed to
cold-packed and gas permeable packages,” says Debra Foti, senior
microbiology technical specialist for Neogen Corp., Lansing, Mich., and
chairperson of the ACB Subcommittee.
In January, the subcommittee recommended The Unified
Test Method for Thermo-Acidophilic Bacilli (UTM) as an interim ACB test
method. The UTM has been particularly effective at consistently recovering
ACBs from a broad range of samples. The subcommittee further recommends the
detection of guaiacol-producing ACB species (predominantly A. acidoterrestris) as the definitive target organisms of concern, rather than
ACB species in general or A. acidoterrestris alone.
“The Unified Test Method for Thermo-Acidophilic
Bacilli test method utilizes more recent research not available at the time
to other previously written methodology,” Foti says. “The
research pointed to the need for pre-enrichment to increase the recovery of
low numbers and stressed ACB. We would further like continuing improvement
in the methodology to distinguish between the guaiacol producing or
guaiacol spoilage ACB organisms as not all ACBs cause guaiacol spoilage.
And this distinguishing feature would effectively prevent incorrect data
interpretation, QC delays in holding raw material, and products not
contaminated by ACBs and not capable of producing the guaiacol.”
Recommending test methodology allows beverage
companies to have a benchmarked reference point for those concerned with a
problem, in this case the ACB species, around the world. A test that
currently takes seven to 10 days, can now be confirmed in two to four days.
This translates into revenue saved by manufacturers, but also improves
product safety, the association says.
“[Rapid testing] also prevents spread of
contaminated raw materials to other production batches, and more insurance
of a quality product provided to the consumer,” Foti says.
“Speed of results is important when trying to eliminate these
organisms from the supply chain and manufacturing areas will have an impact
on lowering the amount of poor quality product...”
At the ISBT’s Annual Meeting, April 14-16, this
subcommittee and other technical committees will be releasing research on
topics including product safety, food defense, quality and updates on new
guidelines for security, testing, quality controls and supply
transportation. For more information, go to the ISBT’s Web site,