Visiting the IAFP Exhibit: food safety
More than 3,400 attendees participated in the IAFP annual meeting, in St. Louis, Missouri in July 30-August 3, 2016. The Exhibit Hall was occupied by more than 170 vendors displaying their test kits, equipment, services and information for the attendees. The most popular group of products displayed were pathogen screening and detection, as shown in the figure below. Almost all of the pathogen assays displayed utilize novel rapid methods.
Detection methods included chromogenic media (powdered media and prepared plates), Immunoassays, and various forms of molecular methods including simple polymerase chain reaction (PCR), multiplex PCR, real-time PCR, nucleic acid sequence-based amplification (NASBA), loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP), and oligonucleotide DNA microarray. The reason that so many vendors focused on pathogen screening is because while if looking at the number of performed tests, pathogen testing accounts for less than 20% of the assays; while from the laboratory budget it accounts for almost 50% of the budget. The most important features of the new assays shown in order of importance accuracy (bases of sensitivity and specificity, and also inclusivity and exclusivity, limit-of-detection (LOD)), speed (total time to actionable result), range of food matrices (the ability of the method to be utilized in a broad range of food matrices), and cost of the assay and instrument. Another important criterion is the skill level required to perform the assay. Many customers are confused from this large selection of methods, and lack of actual data of side-by-side comparison among the assays. If you have such data and are willing to share it please send an Email us.
Many testing laboratories also participated, reigniting the discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of inside testing vs. sending the samples to outside laboratories. A few of testing laboratories offer to be a hired laboratory in the customers’ premises. Regulation such as FSMA, mandate for validation and accreditation, and globalization seem to be driving the increase in food testing. ISO 17025 is increasing the demand for lab accreditation, to ensure the quality of the data. Smaller laboratories generally have problems complying with the regulations (QA&Food Safety).
Many vendors offered a variety of training capabilities including: accreditation (mainly to ISO 17025), proficiency training, GMP compliance, GFSI (global food safety initiative), HACCP, etc. The new FSMA ruling and more regulations of the industry are driving the need to these services.
Assessing the cleanliness of food contact areas is a major task required by HACCP. There are a myriad of systems and devices to assess hygiene levels on both food contact and environmental surfaces. Most are ATP-bioluminescence based. The luminometers used are portable, hand-held devices containing the computing power needed to handle large amounts of sample data that can be integrated with electronic HACCP databases and other systems. Reagents are embedded in the swabs, and can be fitted directly into the luminometer to take a reading immediately after sampling. An alternative to ATP testing is the detection of protein residue. If protein residue is present, the reagent will turn purple – the more contamination, the quicker the color changes and the darker it becomes. There have been relatively little changes in this segment.
It seems that more companies are competing in the allergens space, probably due to the unprecedented growth in food allergies. Cross contaminations in processing lines are of major concerns. There is a risk that food products such as nuts, dairy, shellfish, eggs, and various grains are processed on the same lines as foods that are meant to be free of these ingredients, could contaminate products targeted to allergy-sensitive individuals, risking a case of a severe illness or even anaphylactic shock. Please register to our website and let’s discuss these topics.