Analytical testing — also referred to as materials testing — is an all-inclusive term that covers techniques and test methods used to determine the physical characteristics, microbial levels and chemical composition of a specimen. Because so many of the tests and types of equipment used in analytical testing are highly complex and specific, the field can seem impossible to understand to the uninitiated. Yet in reality, the science behind all of its applications is proven.
In the food industry, human lives — as well as companies’ brand reputation and capital — depend on the safe production and delivery of high-quality products. That’s why the employment of trustworthy analytical laboratories like Log10 is a staple of doing business in a responsible fashion in the food industry and producing a safe and quality product. Our team of skilled professionals is uniquely qualified to provide both the technical expertise and client-oriented service to help detect, eliminate and prevent pathogens from food, feed and environments.
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The Role of Food Testing Labs in the Food Industry
From accurately identifying microbes in a food product to nutritional labeling and regulations for critical points in companies’ processes and documentation, it is imperative that food testing laboratories deliver both the highest-quality technical talent and the most advanced testing equipment and accredited test methods.
Food companies need delivery of highly reliable results in the quickest turnaround times possible in order to continue production unimpeded by events such as government-mandated recall situations due to microbial contamination.
Of course, today’s food manufacturers leverage internal quality management systems to their benefit, ensuring quality products reach the consumer. Ensuring food safety that meets all standards and regulations referred to in the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), a company’s own Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Plan, as well as additional measures for companies that export food products to the European Union, often requires timely independent testing conducted by food safety specialists like the professionals at Log10.
Analytical testing — often made up of microbial analysis and food chemistry testing — serves an integral role in the ongoing success of food companies, from farms and food manufacturers to processors and distributors. By consistently applying the right analytical testing procedures, food laboratories help to protect consumers and companies from the following forms of harmful contaminants to food products:
- Biological Hazards: Some of the most common unwanted hazards of a microbial nature that analytical testing can detect include E. coli and Salmonella bacteria.
- Chemical Hazards: Analytical testing can detect harmful chemical compounds, such as toxins or additives and antibiotics used in raw material production and processing.
- Physical: It’s also important to test for the presence of unwanted physical objects that can result in consumer injury, such as shards of plastics, glass, metals, or wood that can enter food products during processing, packaging and distribution.
Analytical Testing Services
In addition to companies choosing to screen food products for dangerous pathogens, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that all packaged food products for retail consumption are appropriately labeled with nutritional information such as the amounts of fats, sugar, sodium, cholesterol, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals found in that product. This allows consumers to make informed choices about their own nutrition.
All things considered, food manufacturers — much like pharmaceutical companies — need to ensure traceability in their supply chains. This results in quality products that are contaminant-free and packaged appropriately with respect to nutritional labeling.
To make sure that food quality and safety standards are met, Log10 offers the following analytical services:
- Chemistry analysis:Chemistry analysis determines the chemical composition of food products including pH, coloring additives, preservatives and other trace elements.
- Microbiology testing: Microbiology testing determines whether microorganisms are contaminating food products or processing procedures. It should be noted that Log10 is a world-class microbiology testing lab and one of the best bacteria testing labs in the U.S. Our experts use the best biofilm testing methods available, supported by a state-of-the-art biological level II (BSL2) pathogen lab that follows the Association of Official Analytical Chemists (AOAC) test methods. We regularly screen for some of the most hazardous foodborne pathogens, including Campylobacter, E. coli, Listeria, Salmonella, Staphylococcus and Yersinia — to name but a few.
- Organoleptic Properties: In addition to nutritional analysis of food, often other properties such as appearance, color, odor and flavor are often tested to ensure a safe and quality food product will be experienced by the consumer. These sensory analysis are often evaluated during a shelf life study by Log10 experts and profiled in a professional report for complete product integrity and traceability by the food processor, packager or distributor.
Analytical Laboratory Testing for Pet Foods
While the standards regarding acceptable levels of preservatives and chemicals in pet foods and food products intended for human consumption can differ somewhat, the FDA does require that commercial pet foods fully list their ingredients by order of weight predominance. In addition, pet foods are required to be nutritionally balanced in order to maintain the health of the pet.
Of course, for pet food companies looking to remain competitive, it’s important to note that the current trend for pet owners is to be incredibly informed of nutritional information provided on the food label. As a resulting trend, many pet owners are purchasing higher-quality foods for their pets.
The growing demand for improved pet food means that, through analytical testing, pet food companies can better market their safe and quality products to a nutritionally educated public.
Log10 — The Food Industry’s Preferred Choice for Analytical Testing Services
Since 2013, when Dr. Siobhan Reilly founded Log10 with the goal of applying her vast knowledge of food microbiology and probiotics to helping create safer food products, our research team and laboratory continue to provide quality testing services and customized research reporting to clients in all aspects of food production and processing. As an ISO 17025 accredited testing facility with a biological level II (BSL 2) pathogen laboratory, we offer comprehensive food safety analytical testing, research and consulting services designed to efficiently detect and remediate any issues — including microbial contamination — in human and animal food production facilities, packaging, distribution and storage facilities across the nation.
In addition, we regularly provide on-site HACCP training accredited by the International HACCP Alliance and customized for individual food products and processes and tailored for your specific company. Our expert training on regulatory compliance extends from Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), Good Laboratory Practices (GLPs), to Preventive Controls for Animal Food and Human Food (PCQI).
Need an expert’s opinion? For more information on our analytical testing services, please contact us today.