The firm said the deal is part of the strategy of the life science business to expand in key geographies.
The spotlight on the importance of food safety has grown given increased incidents of outbreaks and recalls with products contaminated by Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli O157:H7 and Campylobacter, it added.
Merck completed the $17bn acquisition of Sigma-Aldrich in late 2015.
Combination of microbiology and test kits
Merck said the acquisition will enable it to offer a complete pathogen testing platform to customers in the food and beverage safety testing market.
Udit Batra, CEO of the Merck life science business, said the acquisition boosts ability to help customers protect the food supply chain.
"BioControl's assays and validated kits, when combined with Merck's strengths in microbiology, filtration and e-commerce will create a strong global provider aimed at solving tough challenges in the food pathogen testing space."
BioControl's detection technology and third-party validated testing platforms complement Merck's portfolio of instruments and consumables in its applied solutions business for the food pathogen testing workflow.
Detection technology includes the 1-2 Test which is an antibody based assay for Salmonella in food and environmental samples, Assurance EIA (Enzyme ImmunoAssay) using antibody-antigen "sandwich" assay technology and VIP Gold (Visualimmuno Precipitate), a lateral flow immunoassay.
Customers include meat producers
It primarily sells products to food manufacturers and ingredient suppliers as well as contract testing and government labs.
The firm is based in Bellevue, Washington, with 100 employees worldwide and in FY 2015 it generated revenue of $34m.
Merck has around 50,000 employees and in 2015 generated sales of €12.85bn in 66 countries.
In the US and Canada the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma and EMD Performance Materials.
The life science business will continue to focus on microbial quality control for pharmaceutical production processes and products where it claims to have a leading market share.
Phil Feldsine, president and chief executive of BioControl, said: "Merck's global market presence in laboratory sciences will introduce BioControl's customer oriented solutions to a much broader base worldwide while providing existing customers with access to Merck's food safety product portfolio and expertise.”
Achelous Partners acted as financial advisor to BioControl and Nixon Peabody LLP represented Merck.
Indicia Production acquires Metis Biotechnologies
Meanwhile, Indicia Production has acquired Metis Biotechnologies for an undisclosed amount.
Indicia Production manufactures ready-to-use culture media and sterile liquid products.
Metis Biotechnologies develops, produces and markets microbiological analysis systems using flow cytometry.
They can be automated from sampling to results rendering and are for the pharmaceutical, food processing and cosmetics industries.
Instruments and reagents allow companies to do in-situ analysis on sterility of UHT dairy products and fruit juices and detect acidophilic and acid-resistant floras in fruit juices.
The acquisition enables Indicia Production to extend its traditional microbiological media offering and allow customers to improve reactivity in the control of production.
Bruno Vedrine, founder of Metis, now chief scientific officer at Indicia and director of the Limoges site, said the deal will allow it to offer a range of microbiological analysis to customers.
“This is a particularly exciting step for the future of Metis Biotechnologies as it will enable us to strengthen our sales force in France and abroad.”
Indicia Production has two industrial sites in Saint-Genis l’Argentière, near Lyon, (Rhône, France) and Dinan (Côtes d'Armor).
Stéphane Legastelois, CEO of Indicia Production, said it will strengthen presence on the industrial microbiological control market.
“This acquisition is part of our strategy to develop through external growth, with a special focus on vertical integration in the field of industrial microbiology.”
Following the deal, the consolidated company will have 57 employees and turnover is estimated to reach €8m ($8.35m) in 2017.