Increasing food microbiology testing, growing use of rapid microbial methods and booming business for food contract testing labs are three trends identified by Strategic Consulting, Inc
Increasing environmental testing, especially for pathogens and rising concern over Salmonella are other trends expected this year, said the management consulting firm.
Public concern is a key driver in increasing food microbiology testing worldwide and every time the public reads about another food recall, concern grows.
Increasing regulations such as the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in the US and a heightened food safety action plan for China are two prime examples, given the volume of food production in the countries.
Growth in food micro testing will not grow as rapidly in Europe as it will in North America and Asia.
SCI’s reports are based on interviews with QA/QC managers in food processing facilities and food safety experts from academia, government and industry and diagnostic test manufacturers.
The growing use of rapid microbial methods (RMMs) is clear to meet increased testing needs, but different regions are varied in their level of adoption.
Running a food plant lab requires significant expertise, documentation, and investment, said the report.
Food plants are finding the effort and investment prohibitive, and outside their core competencies, so turn to contract labs.
These labs have been willing to take on the increasing expectation that laboratories be accredited, which has been a tipping point for many companies in letting go of their food plant labs.
With growing public concern about food safety, and increasing globalization of the supply chain, it is a critical and challenging time in food microbiology diagnostics, said the report.
The evolving FSMA regulation will impact environmental testing as it will require the 80% of US food plants governed by the FDA to have FSMA versions of HACCP plans, and to document that these food safety plans are actually working.
This is not to say that these plants weren’t doing environmental testing before, but there will be an increased emphasis on this testing in the future, said Strategic Consulting, Inc.
There is also growing concern about antibiotic resistant Salmonella strains and it seems likely that Salmonella, or some serotypes will be treated in the same way as E. coli O157 (as an adulterant) and not acceptable at any level in food.