The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports one in six Americans falls ill every year from contaminated food. To bring that figure as close to zero as possible—and minimize the exposure that food firms face as a result of such incidents—analytical technology firms are working to come up with equipment and software that improves response time, accuracy, and depth of information.
Colin Thurston, project director for Thermo Scientific, told FoodProductionDaily technological advancements in food analysis are expanding the complexity of tests, and broadening the depth of information a laboratory can uncover.
“The trend is moving away from microbiology, into DNA profiling of pathogens,” Thurston said.
Also, labs in food manufacturing industries and other environments are, as in other parts of the plants, looking for a higher degree of automation.
“Technology enables you to connect all of the equipment in the lab,” he said. “Software will enable you to configure equipment, gather data, share information, and run tests more easily and quickly.”
Stuart Matlow, public relations manager for Thermo Scientific, said food industry clients are looking for analytical technology that broadens the range of information one can draw from a sample, and provide faster results.
“People want technology in pesticide detection that can do more, more quickly,” he said. “For example, you could test spinach for a targeted list of pesticides—but what about the unknowns?”
The trend, Matlow said, is toward testing methods that can pinpoint the pesticides on a target list, while also alerting lab personnel about industrial chemicals and other undesirables in the spinach.
Matlow and Thurston spoke to FPD at Pittcon 2014, a conference and exhibition dedicated to analytical technology for food and beverage testing, materials analysis, and more. The event occurred March 2-6 in Chicago.