USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) Interview
The USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) is using Systec Mediaprep and Systec Mediafill automated media sterilizers for all its media-making needs
The USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) is the public health agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture responsible for ensuring that the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe. The USDA-FSIS facility in Alameda, CA tests meat, poultry and eggs produced by factories across the country. They regulate foods such as hams, hotdogs; any type of cooked or Ready-To-Eat (RTE) material. These products are tested for the main human pathogens: Salmonella, E.coli, Listeria and E.coli O157:H7. The USDA-FSIS Alameda’s Western Laboratory has been using Systec Mediaprep automated media sterilizers since 2004.
Systec Mediaprep is a fully automated system for media sterilization and dispensing, with active cooling to provide fast cycle times for busy laboratories. Systec Mediaprep is available in seven sizes ranging from 10 -120 liters. The USDA Western Lab has one Systec MediaPrep10, three Systec Mediaprep-120s and one Systec Mediafill automated plate pourer. Pairing the Systec Mediafill with the Systec Mediaprep allows maximum flexibility for creating diluent and agar plates as quickly as needed.
Microbiology International, partner of Systec GmbH in Frederick, MD/U.S., recently sat down with Brooks Wong, supervisor of the Microbiology Department of the USDA-FSIS’ Alameda laboratory to discuss use of the Systec Mediaprep and Systec Mediafill systems and how the equipment has affected its daily process.
Microbiology International (MI): In what way does the Microbiology lab use both of these instruments to carry out daily operations at the USDA-FSIS?
Brooks Wong, USDA (BW): We use several types of media in our operations, so it is key to have different instruments available to make different media at the same time. For instance, we use very high volumes of BPW and high volumes of TSB broth.
MI: You mentioned BPW and TSB, but can you tell me what kind of liquid media types you make, roughly what those volumes are, and why such high volumes?
BW: The main media we make in high volume is BPW and TSB. We will make 100 liters at a time, so we utilize the Systec Mediaprep-120s; and we make about 500 liters a week of each. Our sample is a 1 to 10 dilution. A typical sample we cut up from the factory is 350g; so a 1 to 10 is 3 liters. So we use a lot! And we’ll get maybe 37,000 samples a year. So you can imagine how much media we use here at the Western Laboratory.
MI: How has using the Systec Mediaprep system benefited your day-to-day operations?
BW: If there is any critical need for the BPW or TSB, or need for use of the Systec Mediafill, we can usually get that out in a four hour window and hopefully use it and test with it the next day. So it is very flexible for us. We have a regular schedule of production, of course, but if there is a high volume week and we use too much of BPW or TSB we can increase one or the other in an instant.
MI: How has the Systec Mediafill Plate Pourer benefited your daily operations?
BW: Again, it adds to our flexibility. We can produce different types of media for plates right away instead of trying to order from an outside vendor that could take a while. It gives us a lot of flexibility of time. Instead of waiting for an ordered case of plated DLMA, for example, we can go ahead and just utilize the smaller Systec Mediaprep-10 and Systec Mediafill Plate Pourer and get our product out in three to four hours and ready to run.
MI: What is your overall impression of the support and service of Microbiology International, distributor of this equipment?
BW: We have a service contract with Microbiology International. Whenever we have a problem we just call in and the service rep for Microbiology International comes out in a timely manner. He assesses the problem and gets our user input to discern what is going on. He knows the instruments inside out. He recommends solutions, orders parts and fixes the units to get us back on our feet quickly.
MI: Would you purchase additional units if the need arose and would you recommend these units to other facilities?
BW: Currently we have an Systec Mediaprep-10, two Systec Mediaprep-120s, and a Systec Mediafill already in operation. We have already ordered and have received an additional Systec Mediaprep-120 that we will install at our new facility. So we will have a total of three Systec Mediaprep-120s ready for action. I would absolutely recommend these units to other facilities. We are one of three USDA- FSIS labs and I always recommend these systems to my other two labs. My other two labs each have at least one Systec Mediaprep-120 in operation from Microbiology International.
Automated sterilization of media from small to large scale operations. Seven models available from 10 – 120 liters. Systec Mediaprep is capable of sterilizing agar and cooling the media in less than 90 minutes.
Systec Mediafill is the perfect companion to the popular Systec Mediaprep line of automated media sterilizers. Connect Systec Mediafill to Systec Mediaprep and you have a completely closed and sterile walk-away system for media preparation and plate pouring. Systec Mediafill can pour standard 90 mm, 60 mm and up 26 mm deep dishes. With a processing rate of up to 900 plates per hour, Systec Mediafill provides valuable time saving with reliable efficiency. Three different carousel sizes are available: for up to 220, 440 and 660 plates.