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ChaltaFarm Milk Powders and Dairy Export Department

As we all know, bacteria can't be seen with the naked eye. So, we need to be able to see the bacteria in order to determine if they are present and how many there are.The bacteria grow in colonies that allow us to see and count them. These colonies start as a single bacterial cell that multiplies thousands of times until they grow to an amount that forms a colony.  Each colony is counted as 1 bacterium (colony forming unit) or CFU. The procedure that allows microbiologists to estimate the population density in a liquid sample by plating a very dilute portion of that sample and counting the number of colonies it produces is APC.

Total Plate Count

What is agar?

To be able to see the bacteria easily, we grow the bacteria on something called agar using special nutrients. Each cell forms a visible colony when mixed with agar containing the appropriate nutrients.

What is a mesophile?

The microorganism grows at a temperature of 25 to 40 degrees Celsius or 77 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

What is the total plate count (TPC) test?

The total plate count is the enumeration of aerobic, mesophilic organisms that grow in aerobic conditions under moderate temperatures of 20-45°C. This includes all aerobic bacteria, yeast, molds, and fungi that grow in the specific agar. This method is for Enumerating Total Plate Aerobic Bacteria.

What does standard plate count measure?

Standard Plate Count or Plate Loop Count (SPC or PLC) is the measure of the total number of aerobic bacteria in the milk. The most common causes of a high SPC are dirty milking equipment, poor cooling, and poor udder prep. The regulatory limit for SPC is 100,000 bacteria/ml of milk. Using high-quality milk and controlled by our QC standards, our milk powder's protein is over 34% and a TPC of less than 10,000 makes Chaltafarm's industrial milk powder rank in comparison with high-quality EU producers.

What is the standard plate count procedure?

The Standard Plate Counts test evaluates both total aerobic bacteria and total mold and yeasts. Plate counts can be performed by membrane filtration, pour plates, or spread plate methods.

What is the plate count method?

A method of determining the number of organisms in a sample by counting the number of colonies or colony-forming units growing on a solid medium.

What is anaerobic plate count?

 This test should be requested when the normal flora of the sample in question thrives under anaerobic (oxygen-void) conditions. Similar in principle to Aerobic Plate Count, Anaerobic Plate Count is useful to determine the overall anaerobic bacterial population of a sample.

What is the difference between total plate count and total viable count methods?

Total plate count enumerates both living and dead microbial cells while total viable cell count enumerates only the living cells. Also, the viable count is a growth-based technique, unlike the total cell count.

What is the aerobic plate count (APC) definition?

The aerobic plate count (APC) is also known as standard plate count, aerobic mesophilic count, total plate count, or aerobic colony count. The test is based on an assumption that each cell will form a visible colony when mixed with agar containing the appropriate nutrients.  It is not a measure of the entire bacterial population; it is a generic test for organisms that grow aerobically at mesophilic temperatures (25 to 40°C; 77 to 104°F). Also, a low APC result does not mean the product or ingredient is pathogen free. 

Carrying out an APC test gives an indication of bacterial contamination during the collection, processing, handling, or from the packaging of materials.
APC can be used to gauge sanitary quality, organoleptic acceptability, adherence to good manufacturing practices, and to a lesser extent, as an indicator of safety.  

Aerobic Plate Count - Murray Brown Labs (

Plate Count, Kathy Knutson Ph.D., in Food Safety Lessons for Cannabis-Infused Edibles, 2020

Agar, Chiayi Shen undefined, in Phillips' Science of Dental Materials, 2022

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