Agilent Technologies has opened a $25m research and testing laboratory centre in Australia to boost food and beverage analysis capability.
The Spectroscopy Technology Innovation Center in Mulgrave, Victoria also hosts customer demo and training facilities.
Agilent said it will improve their time-to-market for new products as they pursue their chosen markets.
Technologies developed in the centre are used to ensure health beneficial elements in food are in the required concentrations and determining toxic elements such as mercury, cadmium and lead are at acceptable levels for the nature of the product.
“Customers are generally invited to the facility to either see a demonstration of a piece of Agilent analytical equipment or be trained in the use thereof,” Philip Binns, Agilent vice president for spectroscopy products, told FoodQualityNews.com.
“We also use the advanced communications infrastructure we now have to work even more closely with our key partners around the world in developing new technologies for future analytical needs.”
The facility, located within the Monash Technology Precinct, provides communications technology to join Agilent divisions, research partners and customers across the globe.
Equipment includes Atomic Absorption (AA) spectrometers, Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectrometers (ICP-OES), Microwave Plasma-Atomic Emission Spectrometers (MP-AES), Ultra-Violet Visible spectrophotometers (UV-Vis), Fluorescence spectrophotometers, and Fourier Transform-Infrared (FTIR) spectrometers.
“Elemental analysis, involving the techniques of AA, MP-AES and ICP-OEs, covers applications across the food chain — from nutritional benefit and toxicity in soils and plant material at the start of the food chain, through to final test food safety,” he said.
“Food safety can incorporate the validity of the food item itself but also in other areas such as the effect of the packaging on the food, shelf life effects on the food, manufacturing process effect on food etc.”
Food safety visibility
Molecular analysis, involving the technique FTIR, has applications in food quality, and in raw goods screening and FTIR Imaging is used for the rapid detection of pathogens in food, Binns added.
He said food safety is becoming more visible to the general public through greater media coverage.
“Australia and in particular Victoria are seen as the food bowl for both internal consumption and exports. Having the lab based here in Victoria allows us access to not only the local requirements of quality for exports but also allows us to work with researchers looking at better ways of improving the food chain and reducing its susceptibility to toxins.”