Many labs across Africa were initially quite reluctant to try our 3M™ Petrifilm™  range when we started offering it 5 years ago. Now that there’s been a global shift towards Petrifilm™ in the food safety sphere, more and more of our customers have been asking to learn more. 

In this short article, I will briefly describe what Petrifilm™ is, how it can benefit you, as well as clear up any misconceptions surrounding its usage in a modern-day laboratory. 

What is Petrifilm™?

Petrifilm™ is a dry medium bi-layer film that can be used as an all-in-one alternative to the traditional microbiology plating methods. Unlike standard plates, Petrifilm™ is popular for being “ready-to-use” because all the elements required for microorganism growth are already integrated into the upper and lower flaps of the film.  Petrifilm-bi-layer

This clever technology eliminates the need to manually prepare your media. All you need to do is follow ‘The 3 “I”s’:







The above images clearly show that the Petrifilm™ plating system is completely different to the conventional way microorganisms have been cultured. And yes, adopting this system and changing SOPs can be quite daunting – but Petrifilm™ might just be worth the trouble.

Benefits of Petrifilm™

  • No preparation required: ready-to-use plate that does not require weighing, mixing and autoclaving of media, thereby minimising labour and saving you time
  • Consistent and reliable results: by nearly eliminating the preparation steps, the potential for human error is drastically reduced
  • Highly sustainable: 80% less water, 75% less energy, 75% less greenhouse gas emissions and 66% less waste
  • Wide range: includes both standard and rapid detection plates for aerobic, coliform and yeast/mould counts

Misconception vs Reality

Misconceptions against Petrifilm™

The reality of Petrifilm™

Inferior method for detecting microbial monitoring and detection

There is no difference in detection and enumeration compared to conventional methods

It is too expensive

It is expensive for some labs, and more affordable for others. This depends on budget, staff, test volumes etc.

It has a short shelf life

Shelf life is up to 18 months

It lacks international validation

Validated and certified by AOAC and AFNOR

From petrified to on its side

Petrifilm™ is unlikely to become the preferred method for every lab.  However, the practical and potential financial advantages of adopting these sophisticated square films are hard to overlook.

If you feel that your lab is spending too much time and money on preparing media and training staff to do this properly, Petrifilm™ may just be the solution to your troubles.

Many labs have already made the change, are you ready to join them?

- Bilal Khan, Product Manager - Consumables