Emilia Rico, Ph.D. answers questions about the changing landscape of the beverage industry and how we all need to adapt for safer outcomes in microbial detection.

1 What are new beverage trends and the microbial challenges they face?

With an increasing focus on health and wellness, consumers are willing to try new, soft drink alternatives such as sparkling water products, plant-based water, and functional beverages. Kombucha, cold brew coffee, and hard seltzer products were largely nonexistent just a few years ago. The lower calorie, sugar, and alcohol content of hard seltzer, spirits, wine, and beer are increasing which has put more pressure on major food and beverage companies to adapt to these trends. Changes in the formulation of these products or new formulations and processing protocols create specific microbial challenges such as shelf-life studies and quality control testing. In this very competitive market, beverage companies need fast and accurate results.

2 What considerations should the beverage quality team make when evaluating their risk?

Companies must proactively establish a strong foundation to address the quality and safety of their products, encompassing quality metrics, identified risks, and mitigation strategies. A good knowledge of the spoilage microbiota and mycobiota of new products as well as their safety risks is essential. Once identified, companies should focus on the prevention or reduction of the contamination. Testing methodology specific for these groups of microorganisms is necessary.

3 What new spoilage concerns are on the horizon?

Growing markets demand for minimally processed products and elimination of traditional preservatives. Products using traditional preservatives are now heat-processed, use milder technologies, or natural systems. This can result in more spoilage nightmares with heat-resistant microorganisms and preservative-resistant ones. This creates a need for highly effective and faster tools for quality control of the ingredients and the processing.

4 How do bioMérieux Rapid Microbiology Method solutions help solve their problems?

Moving beverages through R&D testing, production, and final product testing often takes more time and proves costly. To achieve faster and more accurate results, bioMérieux Chemunex D-Count Ultra-rapid Microbiology Detection and BACT/ALERT® Rapid Microbial Identification Solution can detect the presence/absence of certain groups of microorganisms quickly, and are backed up by excellent scientific support.

5 What is your main driver for partnering with bioMérieux?

BCN Laboratories is recognized as one of the leading laboratories in food and beverage mycology and safety. bioMérieux delivers the highest quality products, equipment, and exceptional service — we rely on them for expert solutions and accurate results in a timely manner.