Common microbial inhibitors, challenging food matrices and the importance of matrix verification

Dr Gabe Sanglay discusses the top list of microbial inhibitors the US-based Nestle lab encounters that can affect food safety and quality, and how it ensures accurate results time after time.

Microbial inhibitors, whether naturally occurring or intentionally added, are of great importance to food safety. Many of these substances are known to either inhibit or inactivate microorganisms that would otherwise be detrimental to the quality or safety of the food product. Some food matrices, while not inhibitory, possess physical properties (ie, thickening) that may hinder execution of the analytical methods. These matrices can pose a challenge for the analytical microbiology laboratory as they can inhibit detection or quantification of the target microorganism.

With newer ingredients or final product formulations, it is important to understand what these inhibitory compounds are and how to properly enrich the product to ensure successful detection or enumeration of the target microorganisms. This article will discuss some of the inhibitory substances and challenging matrices commonly encountered at NQAC Dublin, and the strategies employed to ensure accurate results.