Performance of the AOAC use-dilution method with targeted modifications: Collaborative study


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in collaboration with an industry work group, spearheaded a collaborative study designed to further enhance the AOAC use-dilution method (UDM). Based on feedback from laboratories that routinely conduct the UDM, improvements to the test culture preparation steps were prioritized. A set of modifications, largely based on culturing the test microbes on agar as specified in the AOAC hard surface carrier test method, were evaluated in a five-laboratory trial. The modifications targeted the preparation of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa test culture due to the difficulty in separating the pellicle from the broth in the current UDM. The proposed modifications (i.e., the modified UDM) were compared to the current UDM methodology for P. aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus. Salmonella choleraesuis was not included in the study. The goal was to determine if the modifications reduced method variability. Three efficacy response variables were statistically analyzed: the number of positive carriers, the log reduction, and the pass/fail outcome. The scope of the collaborative study was limited to testing one liquid disinfectant (an EPA-registered quaternary ammonium product) at two levels of presumed product efficacies, high and low. Test conditions included use of 400 ppm hard water as the product diluent and a 5% organic soil load (horse serum) added to the inoculum. Unfortunately, the study failed to support the adoption of the major modification (use of an agar-based approach to grow the test cultures) based on an analysis of method's variability. The repeatability and reproducibility standard deviations for the modified method were equal to or greater than those for the current method across the various test variables. However, the authors propose retaining the frozen stock preparation step of the modified method, and based on the statistical equivalency of the control log densities, support its adoption as a procedural change to the current UDM. The current UDM displayed acceptable responsiveness to changes in product efficacy; acceptable repeatability across multiple tests in each laboratory for the control counts and log reductions; and acceptable reproducibility across multiple laboratories for the control log density values and log reductions. Although the data do not support the adoption of all modifications, the UDM collaborative study data are valuable for assessing sources of method variability and a reassessment of the performance standard for the UDM.




Tomasino SF, Parker AE, Hamilton MA, Hamilton GC, "Performance of the AOAC use-dilution method with targeted modifications: Collaborative study," Journal of AOAC International. November 2012 95(6):1618-1628.
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