Food industry demands quicker pathogen testing

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food companies Food

Growing demand from food companies for quicker pathogen testing to
free up both time and inventory should benefit microbiology firms,
according to a business consultant.

Currently, microbiology testing for pathogens such as listeria and E. coli takes time before results can be obtained - usually 24 hours or longer.

But with ever-tighter margins and pressure on food manufacturers to deliver cost savings along the supply chain, food companies are looking at ways of cutting down this time delay.

"The adoption of HAACP regulations means that by ensuring the safety and quality of raw materials and the process, food companies can control the end product,"​ Strategic Consulting Inc (SCI) president Tom Weschler told

"But while the adoption of this method goes some way to ensuring the safety of the end product, it can be costly and time consuming."

Faster tests, therefore, could revolutionize food production, and be highly lucrative for microbiology firms.

"Many food factories would love to get a quick result on their raw materials, so that they can decide quickly whether to use them or not,"​ said Weschler.

"Also, they'd love to be able to monitor their outgoings quicker, so that they can decide to ship out their products quicker. This would free up time and inventory."

The food sector is now the largest segment within the industrial microbiology market. It is more than double the size of any of the other industrial segments including the pharmaceutical, personal care products, beverage, environmental, and the industrial process sectors.

SCI estimates that the global food microbiology market will top $1.65 billion this year, representing over 625 million tests.

"There are a number of factors behind this growth, "​ the company's "The industry is more pro-active, and over the past decade the general population has become more aware of potential issues of food safety."

Weschler identifies 1993 as an important date in the flowering of consumer consciousness over food safety. That year there was the scare over Jack-in-the-Box hamburgers containing lethal levels of E. coli.

"Then there was the issue of water contamination in Milwaukee in the mid-1990s and the outbreak of BSE. The response by government was then to toughen testing requirements."

As a result, testing for pathogens such as listeria and E.coli is now routine.

Food Micro-2005, published by Strategic Consulting Inc​ (SCI), includes a thorough review of the global market for microbiology testing generated by the food industry along with detailed examinations into its four main sub-sectors - meat, dairy, fruits/vegetables, and processed foods.

The report also reviews the macro market changes underway that are impacting testing requirements and competitive practices.

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