Last but not least we paid a visit to Covance in Battle Creek.
While it's probably best-known for drug development, Covance is also one of the nation’s leading laboratories specializing in nutritional chemistry, high-throughput microbiology testing services, chemical and physical analysis of raw food ingredients and finished products, and crisis management (what to do if that sample tests positive for something nasty).
The firm - which also operates food testing labs in Wisconsin, Indiana and Singapore - also offers an array of other services from stability and shelf life testing to HACCP training, GFSI pre-audit consultations and assisting firms at the receiving end of FDA 483 letters or USDA notices of suspension.
We work with 77 of the top 100 multinational food companies
As they work with more dietary supplement as well as food clients, Covance scientists have also designed scores of testing programs for heavy metals, acrylamide, melamine and pesticide residues to help firms comply with California’s Proposition 65 and respond to concerns about economic adulteration, says associate director Susan Buckham, MS.
“We work with 77 of the top 100 multinational food companies, but we also work with a lot of dietary supplements companies.”
Covance is also starting to work with a lot more small and mid-size companies that need help to meet the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), while allergen testing is also a fast-growing part of the business, she says.
Clients can follow the progress of their samples in real time and produce an electronic certificate of analysis
Given the sheer volume of samples processed in Battle Creek, the electronic Lab Informational Management (LIM) system - which records and tracks what is happening with a sample from the moment it arrives - is critical to the smooth running of all Covance facilities, says Buckham.
“Clients can follow the progress of their samples in real time and produce an electronic certificate of analysis. By the end of the year, we’re also developing an app so that clients can access our system via smartphones and receive text alerts when sample results come through.”