Invisible Sentinel tastes success with assay development

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Invisible Sentinel to develop Veriflow brewPAL assay
Invisible Sentinel to develop Veriflow brewPAL assay

Related tags: Bacteria

Invisible Sentinel is to develop a diagnostic assay to detect beer-spoiling microbes after partnering with a craft brewery.

The assay for Pennsylvania-based Victory Brewing will be called Veriflow brewPAL and be developed with Invisible Sentinel’s Veriflow technology by the end of this year or start of 2015.

Veriflow brewPAL will enable on-site detection of Pediococcus and Lactobacillus, which can affect the taste of beer by producing lactic acid.

Current testing methods are time-consuming, meaning corrective measures are delayed - the result for brewers can be spoilage, higher production costs and delayed product release.

Industry issues

Nick Siciliano, Invisible Sentinel co-founder and CEO, said the process involved seeing what the firm was doing for quality control and monitoring and a market analysis and feasibility study.

“Pediococcus and Lactobacillus are among the biggest issues, they are environmental contaminants which come in on grain and can become resident in the facility and if they are mixed with the product lactic acid can form in the final product and spoil the beer in the bottle,” ​he told

“It is a critical issue, in bottles more as they sit in room temperature or higher in shipment, and then the warehouse for six months before drinking, for other things such as kegs they are kept cold so it is less of a problem.”

The agreement anticipates that the assay will be made available to the international market.

Paradigm shift

Siciliano said it will streamline workflow collection, allowing for quicker product release and it would cut down on time to result.

“The test will offer same day turnaround and accuracy is in the same region as with our work in the food pathogens space with close to 100% specificity,” ​he said.

“The molecular test adds a level of sensitivity, as now they are doing plating so they can be waiting seven days to possibly get a presumptive positive and they have to sit on the bottles while they check.

“If it comes back positive they have to scrap the product, this is a preventative tool to remediate, detect and get results quickly, it is a paradigm shift as they have the technology but no option to use it due to time.”

The partnership was established through Invisible Sentinel’s contract service that helps clients develop customized assays on the Veriflow platform.

Under the same program, Invisible Sentinel partnered with Jackson Family Wines to develop and commercialize Veriflow BRETT, a test for the presence of Brettanomyces bruxellensisin wine.

Ron Barchet, chief executive officer of Victory, added: “Brewing a great beer requires a dedication to quality assurance. Invisible Sentinel brings to Victory the sort of innovation we’re always looking for to help us keep our edge.”

Invisible Sentinel has also developed Veriflow LS for Listeria species, Veriflow SS for Salmonella species, VeriflowCA for Campylobacter,​ and Veriflow LM for Listeria monocytogenes.

Siciliano said based on the success of the partnership, they are already developing other tests for raw yeast species and spoilage bacteria in wine.

“We have the ability to develop new assays on the platform out of the food pathogen industry because we have worked on a large number of different matrixes which has led us to have robust assays so we can handle different requests for new assays from new industries very quickly.”

Veriflow assays for E.coli O157:H7 and Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) are pending approval by the Association of Analytical Communities (AOAC).

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