February 15, 2017

Why set up an in-house food pathogen testing program?

  • Food Safety

By InstantLabs

Food safety is all over the news–not just here in the US, but globally. The message from consumers and government to manufacturers is clear: Take immediate steps to address this issue or face serious consequences. A key requirement to addressing it is establishing an in-plant hazard reduction program that includes routine pathogen testing.

Today, manufactures have two options: send samples out to a contract laboratory for testing or test them in-house. For many companies, having an in-house lab carries potential benefits that can reduce costs and considerably increase safety and efficiency.

Here are three benefits:

Faster results.  Receiving results from an outside lab can take anywhere from 36 to 72 hours after sending samples. Then there are the inevitable and frustrating delays from weather, particularly when shipping samples a long distance.  Especially with perishable products, this reduces the time spent on the shelf and available to customers. An on-site lab can reduce testing time to as little as 12 hours, allowing products to reach the market faster.

Reduced costs.  The process of sending out samples brings a host of extra costs–shipping, increased inventory, and warehousing.  It costs money and requires dedicated infrastructure to hold the product before releasing it to the market. Having an in-house lab eliminates these logistical costs and the potential headaches involved.

More insight.  Contracting with an outside testing lab means giving up some understanding of what is happening in real-time inside your plant.  While the sample is traveling and then being tested, there could be problems including outbreaks going unnoticed. The longer the results take, the longer these problems have to fester and cause more damage. The consequence is that instead of having to worry about one production lot, you may now have to worry about dozens.

An in-house laboratory can positively affect the bottom line and reduce risk. But isn’t setting one up difficult?  In the past, it could be a daunting task–a complicated jumble of autoclaves, culture plates, chemicals, and complex equipment. Thankfully, the process has become much more streamlined and efficient, taking far less time, money, training, and space.  Today, technicians can reliably run rapid tests with minimal training.  InstantLabs has put together a “Lab-In-A-Box” that includes everything you need to get started in one affordable package.