Simon Taylor, global product manager for Mettler Toledo, told FoodProductionDaily laboratory leaders (and regulatory bodies) are demanding greater accuracy and precision from their equipment. In addition, he said, managers are calling for an increasingly user-friendly laboratory environment.
“Workplace simplicity is the future of the laboratory,” he said. “We are always designing simple user workflows that take the stress and data management headaches away from the laboratory technician.”
Taylor pointed out laboratory personnel working to advance food safety and quality are feeling the impact of regulatory changes like the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). For example, 2013 marked the first time in many years that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stepped up regulations regarding weighing with balances.
“This meant every laboratory, where balances were used to accurately weigh analytical substances, had to have their balances re-assessed to ensure they were meeting the new criteria,” he said.
Those criteria, Taylor explained, called for greater accuracy in weight measurement.
“’Accurately weighing’ is described as any weighing step where the end product is to be quantitatively analyzed," he said. "For foodstuffs, a typical test would be to analyze the amount of a toxic substance present in the final product.”
One example of such testing is determination of aflatoxin levels in peanuts. Normally, miniscule amounts of pure analytical standards are weighed, diluted, and assayed against a pre-prepared food sample.
To ensure continued compliance, balances used to weigh materials in the lab have to be calibrated, tested, and otherwise proven fit for use. Mettler Toledo’s Good Weighing Practice is designed to help laboratory managers select the proper balance for a given application; properly test and calibrate the machines when needed; and document the process.
Additionally, Taylor said, technology suppliers are introducing ways to work toward an error-proof laboratory. Mettler Toledo’s SmartSample feature uses RFID to eliminate transcription and sample placement errors.