A rapid (72 h) method for enumeration and subsequent identification of fecal coliforms is described. The procedure consists of plating a food suspension in an agar-repair medium (trypticase soy agar pour plates preincubated at 35 C for 2 h, then overlaid with violet red bile agar) incubated at 45.5 C. Fecal coliforms can be enumerated within 24 h and then confirmed as Escherichia coli within 48 h by subculturing typical colonies to an 1M ViC agar plate. Feasibility and applicability of the procedure were demonstrated by comparing the efficiency of recovery of both stressed and non-stressed cells on the agar repair medium with conventional agar and liquid most-probable-number media.

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