Rapid microbial identification

Julie Archer, MAS Group Manager

We have greatly enhanced the capacity and speed of our microbial identification capabilities by acquiring a MALDI–ToF (Matrix–assisted laser desorption/ionization time–of–flight) mass spetrometry system.

Contact us

Before you Send please insert the same letters and numbers you see in this image captcha_image into this box: (this helps us fight spam)

When you click on the Send button you will be deemed to have accepted our terms and conditions

You may also be interested in


We can help companies with microbial contamination issues by identifying the organism that is involved in the issue - is it a food pathogen, is it a spoilage organism, what are they dealing with - so that they can take the appropriate action in relation to the microorganism that they've got.

We can also identify the sub genus level, this is important to show small differences between the different isolates. For example, if we're dealing with Listeria we would want to know if it was Listeria monocytogenes or a different species of Listeria because the company could take very different action depending whether they've got Listeria monocytogenes or not. So, knowing down to sub genus level is very important for them.

With such specific and detailed data, we can also start to understand where the cross contamination is occurring within a factory - is it happening with the intake of raw materials or is it occurring in the factory itself? We can use this information to pinpoint if it's occurring in the factory, where in the factory and then the client can take steps to address that specific point of contamination.

The latest developments in the identification service is that we've invested in a MALDI-ToF mass spectrometry bio-analyser to ensure that our clients have the most accurate, affordable and rapid ID service. We are one of the few food labs to offer such a rapid and robust service. The benefits that the MALDI-ToF offers is the accuracy of the identifications, but what's really staggering with the MALDI-ToF is the speed of the analysis. Generally speaking, at the moment, we're offering our clients an identification in about 48 hours, but with the MALDI-ToF we can bring that down to about 15 minutes typically. That means that we can, on average, offer a same-day service to our clients. This becomes really important when we're dealing with isolates such as Salmonella or Listeria where the response time is really critical to helping them solve the problem.

With these timeframes we are eliminating the need for clients to work with presumptive positive results. We can get a confirmed result and report out to the client straight away so that they can start acting on confident, confirmed results and not waste time on presumptive false positives. Once you have a confirmed result we can use the experts on hand to interpret those results and troubleshoot with you.

More on Microbiology

Campden BRI scientist looking through microscope

Pathogen risks to be aware of – lessons from recent recalls and outbreaks

An overview of the foodborne pathogens of concern in the food processing environment and the food chain, drawing on recent outbreak and recall information.

Beer being analysed in laboratory with microscope

5 reasons to optimise the pasteurisation of your beer and low pH beverages

Greg Rachon, Brewing Microbiology Section Lead, explains the benefits to beverage manufacturers of optimising their pasteurisation processes.

Raspberries on pulsed electric field kit

Process validations for non-thermal and new technologies – have you validated the worst case?

We have explored factors outside those commonly considered in process validations, and found significant and substantial effects on the log reductions achiev...

Dry foods in bowls on table

Accelerated shelf-life testing of food and beverage products

Here we outline the services we offer in this area, signpost other useful tools, and unpack some of the key considerations and limitations for conducting acc...

Shelf life

Predictive modelling to determine shelf-life – what can it tell us?

Predictive modelling is a tool used to assess the survival and/or growth of a microorganism under a range of temperatures, pH and water activities.

Shoppers comparing drinks at instore fridge

‘Use by’, ‘best before’, ‘display until’ – what’s the difference and why does it matter?

We’re all aware of the various date marks that appear on food labels, such as ‘use by’, ‘best before’ and ‘display until’. But, let’s look at what they actua...

Contact an expert