Examination of water, foods, ingredients and raw materials, for the presence of marker groups such as coliforms is one of the most common tests in a microbiology laboratory, partly because of the relative ease and speed with which these tests can be accomplished. Where it is claimed that drinking water has been processed for safety, the finding of such organism demonstrates a failure of the process. It is a valuable bacterial indicator for determining the extent of fecal contamination of recreational surface waters or drinking water (1).
Lactose Broth is recommended by APHA in the performance and confirmation of the presumptive test for coliform bacteria in water (2), food (3) and milk (4). This medium was initially listed as an alternative to Lauryl Sulfate Broth in the presumptive Standard Total Coliform Multiple-Tube (MPN) Test for water analysis. Although it is not the original formulation, Lactose Broth provides excellent results in Eijkman Assays of gas production at 45°C, which is a characteristic of Escherichia coli . While preparing this medium it is important to avoid overheating and to distribute it into tubes before sterilization.
Peptic digest of animal tissue and beef extract in the medium supply essential nutrients to the organisms. Lactose is a fermentable carbohydrate for the coliforms. Tubes of Lactose Broth are inoculated with dilutions of water or milk, etc. under test, and incubated at 35°C and examined for gas formation after 24 and 48 hours. Members of the coliform group are defined as aerobic and facultative anaerobic gram-negative and non-sporing bacilli, which ferment lactose with gas formation within 48 hours at 35°C. In testing dairy products, Lactose Broth is used only in the completed test (3). Large water samples may require double strength Lactose Broth to minimize the final volume.
Directions: Suspend 13 grams in 1000 ml distilled water. Heat if necessary to dissolve the medium completely. For larger inocula (10 ml or more), concentrated medium may be prepared to account for medium dilution by the inoculum. Dispense in tubes containing inverted fermentation vial (Durhams tube) as desired. Sterilize by autoclaving at 15 lbs pressure (121°C) for 15 minutes.