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IMPROVING METHODS AND PROTOCOLS USED TO INSURE THE MICROBIOLOGICAL QUALITY OF BOTTLED MINERAL WATERS

Objective



Bottled still and carbonated mineral water has, with one possible exception, never been assoclated with foodborne disease. However, due to EU regulations (80/7771EC) that limit treatment of mineral water destined for bottling, there is a need for a continuaI and very stringent quality control. In most cases the methods available and accepted for quality control of mineral water are slow, statistically unreliable and only a limited number of organisms can be examined. Moreover, some of the mandatory tests require long incubation periods, which require large amounts of storage space and delay shipment to market of the finished product This inturn increases marketing costs resulting in higher prices to the consumer. There is, therefore, an industry-driven need to improve the methods that are presently available and to develop new rapid methods for microbiological assessment of the microbial flora in the bottled water. In order to implement quality assurance programs in the bottled water industy, the potential manufacturers of reagents, kits, and instruments need more information on the microbiology of bottled mineral waters to design improved methodologies. In order to develop appropriate methods for the evaluation of the microbiological quality of mineral water, it will be necessary to understand the taxonomy, ecology and physiology of the microbiological community present in selected aquifers, bottling lines and the finished products, much more comprehensively than at present. The project will therefore be divided into the following targets:
(1)Characterization of a wide range of heterotrophic aerobic and anaerobic
micro-organisms and autotrophic bacteria using up to date methods, their
classification, identification and prevalence in several still and carbonated
mineral waters. It is important to have a profound knowIedge of the
micro-organisms that are authocthonous to mineral waters. Several problems
arise each year with the misidentification of atypical organisms in routine quality
contol presumptively identified as indicators of foecal pollution or pathogens.
These difficulties arise because the knowledge of the microbial flora of mineral
waters is very poor.
(2)Development of nucleic acid probes for the identification of targeted species of
microorganisms as well as seIected higher taxa (families and phyla), for use as
indicators of constancy of aquifers and quality of bottled mineral waters.
Development of alternate methods for the enumeration of indicator organisms
and the heterotrophic plate count (HPC). Nucleic acid probes, viable counts
using dyes would be a useful in measuring the numbers of organisms in mineral
waters.
(3)Examination of the effect of organic nutrients in the bottles on the muItiplication of
the microflora and the formation and structure of biofilms. These studies will be
useful to our knowledge of the microbial ecology in the finished product and lead
to our knowledge of microbial proliferation in the bottIes and perhaps, if
necessary, to prevent this multiplication.
(4)Development of optimal cultivation methods for recovery of stressed
micro-organisms from mineral waters for the subsequent development of new
cultural methods. To study the survival of nutrient stressed (starved) indicator
organisms and pathogens and the relationship between the natural microflora
and the survival of the allochtonous microorganisms.
(5)Development of rapid methods for total counts, viable counts, indicator organisms
and pathogenic organisms for the evaluation of quality and safety using flow
cytometry and the development of new cultural methods to expedite the
heterotrophic plate count (HPC). This proposal represents the first integrated study
of the flora of mineral waters, and the development of methods for the evaluation
of the microbiological quality of minenal waters that has ever been undertaken.

Coordinator

UNIVERSIDADE DE COIMBRA - CENTRO DE NEUROCIENCIAS DE COIMBRA
Address
Departamento De Zoologia
3000 Coimbra
Portugal

Participants (7)

DANONE GROUP
France
Address
Place De La Gare
74503 Evian
GSF - FORSCHUNGSZENTRUM FÜR UMWELT UND GESUNDHEIT G.M.B.H.
Germany
Address
Ingolstadter Landstr., 1
85764 Oberschleissheim
NESTEC LTD.
Switzerland
Address
Vers-chez-les-blanc - P.o. Box 44
1000 Lausanne 26
TEAGASC - THE NATIONAL FOOD CENTRE
Ireland
Address
Dunsinea - Castleknock
15 Dublin
UNIVERSITY OF LILLE II
France
Address
Place De Verdun, 1
59045 Lille
UNIVERSITY OF SURREY
United Kingdom
Address

GU2 7XH Guildford
Universidade Catolica Portuguesa
Portugal
Address
Rua Dr. Antonio Bernardino De Almeida
4200-072 Porto