The firms partnered for an indefinite period and said it will cover ‘strategic fields’ for both companies, without revealing what these are or the focus specifics of the partnership.
Research and food safety teams will provide support and services to anticipate and manage specific or unexpected food safety situations.
Expert teams to work together
Jean-François Billet, SVP at Mérieux NutriSciences, said the partnership is set to foster closer direct collaborations between respective teams in different areas.
“The partnership allows stronger collaboration for routine testing needed by Danone. Also, Mérieux NutriSciences expert teams are closely working with Danone to implement a data management solution customized to their needs,” he told FoodQualityNews.
“Expert teams are closely working together to increase anticipation, reactivity or technical collaboration on key subjects.
“In China, teams will be working together to better answer the requirements of the Chinese market in terms of food safety and quality.”
When asked if there were milestones in the partnership or research projects planned to show it is making a difference, Billet said a ‘very strict governance’ had been put in place to monitor it, involving key senior executives of both companies.
Mérieux NutriSciences' food safety and quality data management tool is being adapted to meet Danone’s requirements.
The tool is web-based and Danone said it will contribute as it strengthens food safety capabilities.
Mérieux NutriSciences said with a dozen customers already using the platform it is providing value added information and analyses enabling customers to better monitor and improve food safety and quality programs.
Food safety demands risk assessment and control throughout the product lifecycle, from design to consumption, said Danone.
To meet and set the highest standards, the company uses a system of governance, including sourcing and manufacturing procedures, scientific tests on ingredients and finished products, and the consultation and support of international experts, it added.
In related work, Eurofins took over Danone’s lab for infant nutrition analysis in Germany in return for an exclusive supplier contract for infant nutrition analysis in August 2013.
Customer demands and regulation
Customers are more demanding and regulations are increasing and supply chains are becoming more complex, said Billet.
“In the field of food safety and quality, building trust with customers and keeping this trust overtime is more and more complex and requires a coordinated and strategic approach.
“This partnership illustrates a very strong evolution of this market, where food safety is becoming more and more strategic to food companies. Looking for compliance is not enough as food safety and quality can either become a competitive advantage or disadvantage, depending on how it is managed.”
With almost 50 years of experience in food safety and quality, a footprint of 80 laboratories in 20 countries, Mérieux NutriSciences said it is well positioned to meet evolving needs of Danone.
Mérieux NutriSciences has been providing support to Danone 'for decades' but the firms did not reveal examples of this work.
Emmanuel Faber, CEO of Danone, said consumers rely on it to tolerate no compromise when it comes to food safety.
“At Danone, we already have world-class in-house expertise and management systems. But in such fast-changing fields, we are also keen to benefit from strong partnerships with top external experts wherever we operate.”
Environmental monitoring software
Meanwhile, Mérieux NutriSciences has reached an agreement to partner with Management Solutions of Virginia by purchasing a majority share in subsidiary, EMAP Holding, a company providing software for environmental monitoring called EnviroMap.
It is a cloud-based system for scheduling, submitting, recording, and tracking microbiological environmental sampling procedures and is for safety programs across the food industry.
Jim Miller, president of Mérieux NutriSciences North America, said it is changing the way food plant microbiological environmental monitoring programs are being managed.
“Food companies are utilizing EnviroMap’s technology to meet their own internal standards and comply with increasing federal standards for preventive controls stemming from the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).”
EnviroMap is integrated with Mérieux NutriSciences’ laboratory network so environmental results are automatically updated in the software.
It can also interface with other external data sources such as customers’ internal LIMS (lab information management systems).