I stumbled across this forum in my search for opinions/expert insights on total viable count (TPC) measurements and the difference between TPC and the total bacteria count present in a given sample. It very quickly appeared to me that this forum is an invaluable source of information on food safety topics, so I thought I would join.
In brief, my name is Gustav and I work in a startup that is about to launch a tabletop real-time bacteria sensor, which can measure the total bacteria count in a given sample (swap or water) within 5 minutes. The measurement result we provide is bacteria/ml, which differs quite significantly from CFU/ml, as we have no incubation or other sample pretreatment (we use the technology impedance flow cytometry). I would say the most comparable metric to our data output is DNA staining, e.g. acridine orange direct count (AODC), but I am not an expert on AODC, so I do not know if there is any specificity to the method.
What I hope to learn more about and discuss with you is how bacteria/ml is a relevant metric in food safety measurements, and how food safety and operations can be improved through faster bacteria measurements. Of course bacteria/ml is entirely non-regulated as everything is bound up on CFU, but that is not a significant concern to us at this stage. I am a physicist by education, so I apologize if some of the microbiology lingo is lost on me. Also, I will try my very best not to advertise my company and our product, but please let me know if I step out of line. The reason why I am here is not to sell units, but it is to discuss the technical aspect of measuring bacteria/ml instead of (or as a supplement to) TPC, and how faster measurements could improve food safety in general.