Xiaonan Lu, Hamzah M. Al-Qadiri, Mengshi Lin, Barbara A. Rasco
School of Food Science, Washington State University, P.O. Box 646376, Pullman, WA, 99164-6376, USA.
Infrared spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy provide complementary technologies for rapid and precise detection of microorganisms and are emerging methods in food analysis. It is possible to use either of these techniques to differentiate and quantify microorganisms in relatively simple matrices such as liquid media and simple solutions with determinations taking less than an hour. Vibrational spectroscopy, unlike other techniques used in microbiology, is a relatively simple method for studying structural changes occurring within a microbial cell following environmental stress and applications of food processing treatments. Vibrational spectroscopy provides a wide range of biochemical properties about bacteria in a single spectrum, most importantly characteristics of the cell membrane. These techniques are especially useful for studying properties of bacterial biofilms on contact surfaces, the presence and viability of bacterial vegetative cells and spores, the type and degree of bacterial injury, and assessment of antibiotic susceptibility. Future trends in food analysis will involve combining vibrational spectroscopy with microscopy, mass spectroscopy, or DNA-based methods to comprehensively study bacterial stress. Further advances in selectivity, sensitivity, and improved chemometric methods, along with reduction in the cost of instrumentation, may lead to the development of field-ready and real-time analytical systems.