While Döhler already has testing kits and systems for the alcoholic beverage market, the new tools are aimed at the growing non-alcoholic drinks segment. One product is an aseptic validation medium (AVM), the other is a risk management system for reducing Alicyclobacillus, which can shorten shelf life. Pressured by increasing regulation and food safety concerns, processors have made continuous microbiological monitoring a key part of their plant operations. This process means testing at the raw material stage all the way through to the finished food product, Döhler said. "Current developments in the non-alcoholic beverages market, the packaging variations favoured by the consumer and heightened quality requirements underline the enormous importance of product safety at the present time," the company said in a statement. The AVM product allows factory workers to identify a range of beverage contaminants in the aseptic filling process under standard production parameters. It uses a visual confirmation that requires no additional technical equipment. Test results are available within five to seven days. Döhler claims the standardised medium helps processors save money by identifying contaminants in the system early on in the production process. "Not only are a small number of samples examined, but a complete filling operation is considered, thus increasing statistical certainty several times over," the company claimed. Meanwhile the risk management system for Alicyclobacillus can help in sensory quality assurance on the beverage line. Alicyclobacilli can spoil beverages by creating an off-flavour. Alicyclobacilli spores occur mainly in the soil. The spores are able to survive normal pasteurisation conditions, germinate after a period of several weeks. In favourable conditions, such as warm temperatures and an acidic medium, thse can grow with a resulting increase in heat resistance. Döhler said it has developed a number of products that allow processors to reliably detect and assess the beverage-harming potential of Alicyclobacilli. The Guaiacol detection kit can be used for acid-tolerant and heat-resistant bacteria with significant beverage-harming potential. It can be combined with BAT agar and BAT broth for analysing Alicyclobacilli even in complex beverages. Other detection kits include molecular biological differentiation and identification systems for a variety of contaminants, and a PCR-based detection method for heat-resistant moulds. Döhler said it had made about 100 microbiological process checks at filling plants from 2003 to 2006 as a means of assessing changes in beverage production. "The mostly higher pH values, low or no carbonisation and a better offering of nutrients and growth promoting substances are leading to a substantially broader germ spectrum with, in the main, greater potential for harm," the company added. The Döhler group of companies makes fruit juice concentrates, fruit preparations, blends, compounds, ingredient systems, emulsions, flavours and colourings for the beverage and dairy industry.