What is Food Safety Testing? | Food Safety Testing Lab

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What is Food Safety Testing?

Food Safety Testing Laboratories and food companies constantly conduct food safety tests for ensuring that the product produced by them is edible using the microbiological analysis.

However, depending on the ingredients in the recipe, the laboratories recommend suitable testing for microbes. Some of the most common tests conducted for microbes include: 

  • Staph, Aureus
  • Salmonella 
  • Escherichia coli (E. coli)
  • Listeria
  • Mould

The laboratories do not test for pathogens or food, which has intentionally contaminated. Food production companies conduct food safety testing for preventing food poising outbreaks.

Hence, food requires testing under normal circumstances. For conducting the analysis, the food companies need to ship a sample of their product for performing the test. 

Food Safety Testing: The Options 

According to a recent study conducted by Markets and Markets Research, the size of the global food safety testing market was more than 12.01 billion USD in 2016, which might reach 18.41billion USD by 2022. The possible growth magnifies the need for faster and more accurate analytical results for which the demand was never much higher.

Recently, the rise in the interests of the consumers in food safety and quality issues and the capability of rapidly sharing these issues through social media, combined with expanding regulatory initiatives such as the food safety testing Modernization Act (FSMA) has improved the importance of testing.

Most of the food manufacturing companies have engaged themselves in re-evaluating the options for conducting food safety tests as efficiently as possible. One of the best options includes the setting of an in-house laboratory. 

Physical space, specialized equipment, staffing, ISO Accreditation, Regulatory and Client scrutiny, Turnaround time requirements, and hidden costs are some of the most important factors that you need to consider while setting up an in-house lab.

Food safety testing Besides, you also need to remain updated with the new technologies, ability to troubleshoot, and increase the need for method validation and verification. 

Food Safety Testing: The Methods 

We have listed below some of the most common analytical laboratories methods used by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for ensuring food safety testing. Evens most of the companies within the food industry also use some of the below-mentioned techniques. These include: 

  • Chemical Methods Resources
  • Microbiological and Biological Methods Resources
  • Macro analytical Methods Resources 
  • FDA Foods Program Methods Validation Guidelines 
  • Laboratory Quality Management Manuals 

Chemical Methods Resources

The Chemical Analytical Method (CAM) contains chemical methods, validated using the FDA Foods Program Guidelines for the Validation of Chemical Methods, and currently used by FDA.

There are some additional methods collections generated for specific FDA analytical laboratory program areas. These might also contain certain methods found in the CAM along with older methods that FDA no longer follows. Food safety testing the most prominent methods include: 

  • Elemental Analysis Manual (EAM) 
  • Pesticide Analytical Manual (PAM)
  • DNA-based Seafood Identification 
  • Laboratory Information Bulletins 

Besides these established FDA methods collections, food companies follow other chemical methods as well. There are high chances that these methods have developed recently and are still the requirement to undergo complete validation. They were cited either in the past or used for data collection. 

Microbiological and Biological Methods Resources

The FDA Foods Program Compendium of microbiological methods includes the Bacteriological Analytical Manual (BAM) and those validated under the FDA Foods Program’s Guidelines for Validation of Analytical Methods for the Detection of Microbial Pathogens in Foods and Feeds but not entered into the BAM. 

FDA’s BAM consists of the agency’s preferred laboratory procedures for conducting a microbiological analysis of food and cosmetics. With the new methods getting validation for further use in FDA laboratories.

There is a delay before updating the chapters that might get added to the BAM. In these instances, the new methods will get listed individually on the FDA’s website until the BAM gets updated. 

Macro analytical Methods Resources 

The Macroanalytical Procedures Manual (MPM) consists of standardized methods of macroscopic analysis that helps in determining the defects present in various types of food and food products. Moreover, the Food Defect Action Levels Handbook lists down the levels of natural as well as unavoidable defects in food, which when present no health hazards for the humans. Each of the listings indicates the analytical methodology (which is the defect method) used along with the parameters for the defect (defect action level). 

FDA Foods Program Methods Validation Guidelines 

The methods developed for the FDA Foods Programs are first validated according to the established guidelines and appendices to those guidelines, and as defined by the Method Development, Validation, and Implementation Program (MDVIP).

The guidelines contain a detailed description of the goals of the MDVIP as well as the validation of the chemical, microbiological and DNA-based methods. It also contains the Guidance for the use of Exact Mass Data for Confirmation of Identity of Chemical Residues. The successfully validated methods finally get added to the FDA Foods Program Compendium of Analytical Methods.

Laboratory Quality Management Manuals 

CFSAN Laboratory Quality Assurance Manual 

The CFSAN Laboratory Quality Assurance Manual (LQM), 4th edition (2019) describes the policies and instructions related to laboratory quality assurance in CFSAN.

The food companies and food testing laboratories consider the manual as the central source for reference and understanding the quality system laid by FDA. Thereby provides guidance on the quality concepts, practices, and principles. 

ORA Laboratory Manual 

The ORA Laboratory Manual provides FDA personnel with information pertaining to internal procedures.

The FDA requires the information to be used as an agency policy for testing varied consumer products, training the staff, report writing, research, safety, reviewing the reports of private laboratories, and count testimony. 

The food testing laboratories need to select the right technique(s) for testing the food and food products. The selection depends on the evaluation of a number of factors that would ensure an effective balance between timeliness, cost, and accuracy.


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