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Int J Food Microbiol. 2003 Jun 15;83(2):161-70.

A collaborative study of a method for the enumeration of probiotic bifidobacteria in animal feed.

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Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Central Science Laboratory, Sand Hutton, York YO41 1LZ, UK.


An enumeration method to be used as an official control method in the framework of Council Directive 70/524/EEC for probiotic bifidobacteria used as feed additives was validated. Seventeen laboratories in 11 European Countries carried out a collaborative study. A spread plate method following BS ISO 15214:1998 using four different agars, Man Rogosa Sharpe (MRS), acidified MRS, MRS with triphenyl tetrazolium chloride (TTC) and a selective bifidobacteria medium, was validated. Precision data in terms of repeatability (r) and reproducibility (R) of the method for each medium using different feeding stuffs with a high and a low inoculation level were determined. Bifidobacteria were present in the samples as a single component or in mixtures with other probiotics. The enumeration of bifidobacteria on all agars showed a relative standard deviation of repeatability (RSD(r)) between 1.2% and 6.3% and a relative standard deviation of reproducibility (RSD(R)) between 2.6% and 8.7%. MRS agar was preferred, followed by acidified MRS and MRS+TTC agar. The selective bifidobacteria medium gave similar counts as the MRS media. For routine analysis, the use of MRS agar with supplementation of cysteine hydrochloride (the selective bifidobacteria medium without antibiotics) is recommended. Depending on the presence and concentration of other probiotics such as enterococci, lactobacilli and pediococci, acidified MRS or MRS+TTC agar is recommended. The selective bifidobacteria medium was selective for bifidobacteria. An official control method for enumeration of probiotic bifidobacteria as a single component and in mixtures with other probiotic microorganisms in feeding stuffs was validated. The methodology is not applicable to mineral feed. The results are intended for consideration for adaptation as CEN and ISO standards.

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