Petrifilm aerobic count plates are similar to or better than conventional pour plates. Petrifilm has its problems, however; some microorganisms can liquefy the Petrifilm gel and others do not produce the necessary color change with the indicator dye used. Petrifilm aerobic count plates were compared with the pour plates for determining the incidence and identification of problematic organisms in 329 meat and dairy products. Petrifilm plates produced higher mean counts with better repeatability than did pour plates. There was also close correlation between methods with coefficients of 0.97 to 1.0. Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus licheniformis, and a group D Streptococcus liquefied Petrifilm gels in 17.4% of the samples tested: dairy products accounted for 16.0%, and meats accounted for the remaining 1.4%. Liquefaction hindered enumeration in 3.2% of the Petrifilm plates used. Streptococcus viridans was not detectable on Petrifilm plates after the recommend incubation period, and this organism occurred in 0.3% of the Petrifilm plates used. These results indicate that Petrifilm plates would be unsuitable for samples with large numbers of these organisms. Knowledge of the contaminating flora may be an asset when utilizing Petrifilm aerobic count plates for the enumeration of microbes in food.

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