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 occurring compound.
“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,