The scientific credentials of anyone working within food testing need to be underpinned with knowledge of the current and emerging regulations. This means keeping a breast of any changes to tasty world quality standards. The all too recent horse meat scandal is a reminder of why food testing is needed with a global food supply chain.
Both areas of food testing are about providing reliable, accurate results to make foods safer. Ensuring they meet the necessary statutory requirements and protect the consumer.
Microbiology food testing is specifically for the identification of microorganisms which causing food spoilage and foodborne illness or where food producers’ use microorganisms to in food production, for example cheese making.
• Shelf Life Determination – confirmation of the stability of a food product based upon storage conditions, time and temperature. The shelf life determination allows food producers to confidently set a Sell By Date or Use By Date.
• Water Testing – testing water is safe for human consumption within a food factory or manufacturing site. Because water a raw material and should be tested and analysed accordingly.
• Legionella Testing – testing water for the specific presence of Legionella bacteria, especially the most pathogenic (disease-causing) strain of Legionella bacteria is Legionella pneumophila group.
• Environmental Hygiene Monitoring – advice on how to set up food factory environmental control and monitoring plans to help meet the specifications required for good food factory environmental hygiene Helping reduce levels of contamination in finished products, leading to improved quality, fewer batch rejections and lower risk of product recall.
• Microbial Quality Determination – used to assess the microbiological quality of the end product, or an ingredient, or even the cleanliness of a food contact surface.
• Pathogen Determination/Identification – analysing and testing for food pathogens which cause illness in humans either by infections such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and pathogenic Ecoli or in toxications such as Bacillus cereus, Staphylococcus aureus or Clostridium botulinum.
Food chemistry testing is focused around nutritional values and determining the composition of food products. Identifying the presence of additives or contaminants and is generally used to ensure food and drink products meet consistent standards and quality. It can also be used to provide accurate data to meet regulatory and consumer requirements, for example food labeling.
• Group 2 Nutritional Testing, including AOAC Dietary Fibre – the Government recommends that Group 2 information be given on all foods, on a voluntary basis, as this gives consumers information on the key health-related nutrients. Information declared should be expressed as g/100g or g/100ml.
• Meat and Fish Contents – There are limits on the presence of connective tissue and the amount of fat associated with lean meat. Analysis of meat content and collagen can provide you with figures for Nitrogen, Protein, Ash, Moisture, Fat, Carbohydrate, Apparent Meat with and without Fat and Energy Values in Kcals and Kjoules.
• Meat and Fish Speciation – Once flesh is removed from the carcass it is not always easy to visually identify the different species. The more processed the meat or fish, the less recognisable it becomes from its original species. It is at this stage that adulteration and contamination can occur. The identification of animal species is performed for a variety of reasons, both economic and ethnic, to prevent the substitution of meat with unsuitable or inferior species, or in religious communities where a particular meat is prescribed.