Clients need results for analyses as quickly as possible, which includes reducing rates of false positives, D.J. Alwattar, president at Northland Laboratories, told FoodQualityNews.com.
He added that speed for results, specificity and sensitivity in test methods will be the future drivers for food safety testing.
Northland Laboratories is an ISO/IEC 17025 accredited food and beverage facility offering testing services, including food safety / microbiology testing and consulting, nutrition labeling, food chemistry analysis, shelf life and challenge studies.
The lab also offers food and beverage sensory analysis to evaluate products’ market potential through its Northland Sensory Insights division.
Annual report highlights
Northland Laboratories reported an error rate of less than .01% between Microbiological and Chemistry testing for a 12 month period.
The report compiled data from Northbrook, Illinois and Green Bay, Wisconsin from the previous 12 month period ending 31 October 2013.
Key performance measurements include error rates, presumptive positive rates and on time reporting.
Alwatter said it tracks all errors in the laboratory to continuously improve service to clients.
“For all errors, we follow a CPAR (Corrective and Preventative Action Request) procedure to insure the root causes of any errors are determined, corrected and verified. We track these errors and review their progress monthly.”
Pathogen suspect rate
A suspect rate of 2.3% was reported on pathogens (including Salmonella, Listeria genus, Listeria monocytogenes, and E. coli 0157:H7).
“On rapid pathogen test kits, a positive reading is recorded as a "suspect" or "presumptive" result, which is then carried out using a confirmation procedure,” he said.
“2.3% of our tests were "suspect" and within manufacturer expectations of performance, thereby determining that there is no higher rate of suspect or presumptive results introduced by the laboratory under our performance in 2013.”
On-time delivery of results for food safety analyses was at 98.5%, the percentages are based on more than a quarter of a million tests performed, said the firm.
Alwatter said that some results are provided the same date of the receipt at the laboratory and many are provided next day.
“All timing of results are determined by the incubation protocols of the analyses for microbiology. All analyses are started the same day for microbiological / food safety requests for providing the quickest response time for result.”