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Published On: Fri, Apr 12th, 2019

What Happens During Laboratory Testing?

As part of hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) and food safety management systems, you need to carry out several tests so your clients can be sure of your product quality. Some sample collection and testing can take place in-house, but external testing is a standard part of HACCP practices as well.

Both food samples and environmental samples can end up in a laboratory, but what happens to them? Below, we run you through what takes place once you send your samples away for testing.

.Image/CDC

Microbiology Testing

Whether you deal with finished products or raw materials, you may find you require microbiology testing at some point during your HACCP and food safety management system processes. Microbiology testing incorporates testing for organisms that could pose a risk to humans, integrity and spoilage testing to ensure something meets market standards, and shelf life determination.

All three testing criteria are crucial in dairy, animal and poultry, potable water, seafood, additives, supplements, and more. Even sauces and sugar confectionery are not exempt from microbiology testing, nor are non-alcoholic beverages, spices, herbs, and cereals. Almost anything destined for the consumer market must meet both your HACCP standards and the standards of laboratory testing.

Chemical Analysis

Chemical analysis is an integral part of laboratory testing which includes nutritional, safety-related, compositional, and general chemistry. Let’s say you are creating a new product, but have not yet created your nutritional labels. On these labels, you have to confirm the nutritional composition of a product, but it has to be precise.

That’s where laboratory testing processes come in. Testing can help you to establish how much fat, sugar, sodium, fibre, and anything else is in your product. If you actively advertise that your product has something beneficial for your health, such as Omega-3 fatty acids, a laboratory test can verify those claims.

Chemical analysis also checks products for foreign matter and impurities, allergens, metals, residues, contaminants, and more.

Residue Testing

Residue testing is essential for both the domestic and international market. Including residue testing in your HACCP and other processes ensures you can meet your market access and safety standards.

This form of testing takes place in agriculture and veterinary medicines. The laboratory will test over 1,000 products for residues, including meat, tissue, urine, dairy products, honey, milk, and more. All products must meet supermarket standards, so laboratory technicians have to make sure all products fall below the Maximum Required Level (MRL) standards.

Contaminant Testing

When your business operates with HACCP, you eliminate many biological, chemical, and physical hazards during the production process, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always be hazard-free. If you find yourself with a potential contaminant, testing is paramount.

A laboratory will carry out contaminant testing for food, environmental samples, flora, fauna, and feedstuffs. These tests establish contaminants from activities and processes in the agricultural sector, as well as the ecosystem, environmental emergencies, wastewater, sewage, and more.

Forensic Analysis

Forensic analysis sounds like something you’d only hear about in a police TV drama, but it’s real life when it relates to contaminants. The job of a laboratory technician in forensic analysis is to identify chemical, biological, and physical contaminants in a broad range of products.

They test for particles such as glass and metal, chemical contamination, pests, insects, plant material, and other potentially hazardous foreign items.

Toxin Testing

An unfortunate reality of working with food is that it can be dangerous. All it takes is mismanagement or an inferior quality product, and you could have a severe problem on your hands. That’s why toxin testing exists. A toxin specialist will identify toxins in your food samples, helping you to understand how they came about. You can then use such data to strengthen your HACCP to avoid potential problems in the future.

Toxin testing can include mycotoxins in food and marine biotoxins in fish and shellfish.

Pest & Plant Testing

Any unwanted plants or pest insects in the agricultural or related industries can be disastrous. It can end up costing the country millions of dollars as well. That’s why plant and pest health laboratories are so important. Specialists use a mixture of nematology, plant pathology, and entomology to diagnose seed and plant diseases and identify invertebrate pests.

Some of the services in a pest and plant testing environment include control and technical advice, identification, and extraction.

Conclusion

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points is an international process system for a reason – it works. However, both random and scheduled testing can be a saving grace for any business or industry. If you are ready to carry out testing on your products, then use a sample submission form and get the process underway. Getting the results can end up being a form of education to help your business now and into the future.

Author: Digital Solutions

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