dispatches from Analytica 2014

Brand protection driving on-site testing

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Rolf Steinmuller (right) spoke to FQN at Analytica in Munich
Rolf Steinmuller (right) spoke to FQN at Analytica in Munich
Brand protection is the number one driving force for rapid tests and food companies testing on-site, according to Neogen.

The firm said testing on-site is increasing so storage capacity can be reduced quicker.

However, there will always be testing done with more sophisticated instruments and measurements on government and private and commercial labs.

Testing on-site

Rolf Steinmuller, division manager for Neogen Europe in Germany, told FoodQualityNews.com that there was a trend for rapid and reliable tests done on-site.

“People don’t want to waste too waste too much time in sending samples away for reference labs or government labs or other commercial labs,” ​he said at Analytica trade show in Munich.

“So they want to have a quick decision so they decide if they can use the equipment after cleaning or if they have to repeat the cleaning so we see that on the hygiene side.”

Allergen concerns

He took the example of mycotoxins which has recently grown in importance.

“I’m in the business for almost 15 years, mycotoxins at the start, people would say it was not an issue but it is becoming more and more of an issue. If you have a bad lorry you have to make a decision if you take it in or just refuse to take it.

“If you don’t make the right decision, you buy something and then you have a contaminated truckload of stuff in your silo you have an issue because you cannot separate it afterwards.

“Good quality is at a good price, you don’t want to pay for something where you have contamination. So it’s not only the health risk but the value of the product.”     

Steinmuller said allergens were another big coming issue.

“So the question is if you have multiple use or shared equipment is the equipment clean or do you still find residues of a particular allergen? So that would be a swab test or lateral flow test but also on food matrixes.

“The only difficulties we see on the market there are no thresholds besides gluten so people don’t really know where to have their thresholds.

“In terms of pathogens, the idea is to have a fast result so people can release their products much faster and don’t have to hold them back in storehouses.”

When it comes to speed tests should try and be as accurate as possible as a false positive can be lived with but nobody wants to see a false negative result, he said.

Testing types

Lateral flow tests enable a single test with no additional cost, said Steinmuller.

If you use the ELISA test system you would have different standards, so running one test or one sample doesn’t really make sense because you produce a lot of cost as you need to run five or six controls.

“Lateral flow usually has an inside control and one test costs as much as 5 or 10 tests as it is always the same.

“Nowadays, with some of the strips you have the opportunity to have a full quantitative result. This is the new trend in mycotoxins, for example, not to say it is a yes or no like a pregnancy test it is a full quantitative test so you actually get an idea of the amount of the toxins you are looking for.”

Quality control is regarded as a negative and costly impact for most companies, he said.

“In my perspective as somebody from my type of diagnostic industry I would of course see that they would more value quality control. They don’t see the advantage of having safer food, having less troubles with recalls and stuff like that.”

Steinmuller said the industry is getting bigger and smaller companies might disappear.

“You would probably see the same on our side of the business, so diagnostically, smaller companies will be bought by bigger companies, but we not in the same situation like the clinical diagnostic markets.”  

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