When 3M™ Petrifilm™ Plates first launched 25 years ago, they presented food and beverage industry professionals with an innovation that revolutionized the traditional method of detecting and enumerating bacteria, and set an industry standard for food testing around the world.

By eliminating the weighing, dissolving, sterilizing and waiting associated with other quality control methods, quality assurance technicians could simply inoculate, incubate and count. The all-in-one plating system achieved new heights of productivity, quality and reliability in environmental surface and microbial testing.

Fewer steps and increased productivity by technicians led to less chance of error; more accurate, consistent and easy-to-read results; and fewer costs. Because of these plates, testing today can be done in-house with no need to send samples out for analysis.

Now sold in over 100 countries, the time-saving, sample-ready plates have defined food quality testing and led the way to even more transformation: The 3M™ Petrifilm™ Plate Reader, and a family of 10 plates testing for E. coli/coliform, yeast and mold, Staphylococcus and Enterobacteriaceae. The innovative 3M™ Environmental Listeria Plate was AOAC-certified in 2006.

“3M epitomizes the commitment to protecting the food supply that we all strive to attain,” said Larry Cohen, North American senior food safety program leader for Kraft Foods. “Not only have they developed revolutionary technologies, they have also contributed to the profession by allowing their people the freedom to work with their customers in long-term thinking about methods to improve the quality of the food supply, We have worked with 3M for almost 20 years, and in this time, we’ve come to view our relationship as a partnership.”

Building on its legacy for product innovation that helps processors efficiently and cost-effectively protect the global food supply, the company continues to exceed the expectations of food and beverage industry professionals with such supportive products as the portable, easy-to-use 3M™ Clean-Trace™ Hygiene Monitoring System—including the 3M™ Clean-Trace™ NG Luminometer that features software and data handling capabilities that provide advanced data tracking and trending in seconds—and the 3M™ Tecra™ Rapid Pathogen and Toxin Test Kits. The 3M™ Microbial Luminescence System (MLS) offers precision, flexibility, reliability and robustness, making it ideally suited as a high-throughput microbial detection system for sterile end-product screening.

Over the years, the company has developed additional progressive products to support the quality assurance laboratory for timesaving microbiology sample collecting and handling, such as ready-to-use 3M™ Quick Swabs for environmental testing, 3M™ Electronic Pipettors (1- and 5-mL volumes) with programmable dilution capabilities, 3M™ Flip-Top Dilution Bottles, the 3M™ Sponge Stick and other general laboratory supplies.

In 2008, 3M was honored by the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) with its most prestigious award, the Black Pearl Award, given annually to one recipient in recognition of that company’s outstanding achievements in advancing food safety and quality through consumer programs, employee relations, educational activities, adherence to standards, and support of the goals and objectives of IAFP.

David Tharp, executive director of IAFP, notes that 3M has long been an active and dedicated member of IAFP. “3M’s integrated approach to providing food safety solutions to the food industry is second to none,” he said. “They have a history of partnering with customers and industry organizations to address issues or problems. Through active involvement in IAFP scientific journals and industry events, 3M Microbiology regularly provides ideas and solutions to the food industry.”

As the food industry faces ongoing challenges to find superior, more efficient and cost-effective tools to secure food safety, the company continues to be a recognized leader in research and development. It is also dedicated to providing innovative solutions and technologies, high quality standards, enhanced productivity and cost savings that will support plant managers for decades to come.