Advances in molecular technologies and automated instrumentation have provided many opportunities for improved detection and identiﬁcation of microorganisms; however, the upstream sample preparation steps needed to apply these advances to foods have not been adequately researched or developed. Thus, the extent to which these advances have improved food microbiology has been limited. The purpose of this review is to present the current state of sample preparation, to identify knowledge gaps and opportunities for improvement, and to recognize the need to support greater research and development efforts on preparative methods in food microbiology. The discussion focuses on the need to push technological developments toward methods that do not rely on enrichment culture. Among the four functional components of microbiological analysis (i.e., sampling, separation, concentration, detection), the separation and concentration components need to be researched more extensively to achieve rapid, direct, and quantitative methods. The usefulness of borrowing concepts of separation and concentration from other disciplines and the need to regard the microorganism as a physicochemical analyte that may be directly extracted from the food matrix are discussed. The development of next-generation systems that holistically integrate sample preparation with rapid, automated detection will require interdisciplinary collaboration and substantially increased funding.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/byron_brehmstecher/1/