New validated method for challenge testing canned drinks

Campden BRI’s scientific research group has recently validated a new method for inoculating carbonated canned beverages and soft drinks. It has the benefit of allowing shelf life trials to be conducted in original packaging, under minimally altered environmental conditions.

Previously, laboratories had to decant canned beverages into alternative containers to carry out microbiological challenge testing. Microbiological challenge testing is the laboratory simulation of what can happen to a product during distribution and subsequent handling if it were to be contaminated with a micro-organism. It involves deliberate inoculation of the product with these organisms, typically a specific pathogen or group of spoilage organisms, after which the product is stored and tested during shelf life.

Campden BRI’s new method deals with the issues of de-carbonisation and re-oxygenisation that occurs through the decanting of beverages to carry out testing, and enables the process to be carried out in the original can.

A small hole is drilled into the can under aseptic conditions and, following the microbial inoculation, sterilised rivets are used to reseal the ‘inoculation hole’. The rivet is able to withstand increased pressures that may occur during the growth of fermentative gas-producing organisms.

Campden BRI’s challenge testing methods cover all potential microorganisms that companies may wish to consider. Manufacturers also have the option to use the company’s microbial growth prediction service, based on mathematical growth models. These predictive models are the quickest method, allowing cost effective testing of different ‘what if’ scenarios when reformulating or developing new products, to predict the levels of microbial growth.

Food safety is a major concern for everyone involved in the food and drink industry from producers to policy makers and retailers to consumers, and it is imperative that all precautions are taken to safeguard consumers’ health.

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