Analysis Request – Food Products
Food products that we eat are rarely ever sterile with sources of microorganisms ranging from the rich microflora of bacteria, yeast and fungi present on surfaces of plants and the gastrointestinal tract of animals to the various raw materials used in the food production process. These microorganisms can be introduced throughout the course of harvesting, slaughtering, processing, storage and distribution. Microbiology of food products is the study of these microorganisms which inhabit or contaminate food. As expected, major emphasis is put on microorganisms that cause food spoilage and food borne illnesses. Vinlab Micro uses the most up-to-date technology enabling both quality and pathogen microbial testing on a variety of food products.
Microbiological analyses of food products are a useful way to assess the safety and quality of food through various quantitative quality tests and qualitative pathogen tests. Quality parameters tested identify and quantify Total Aerobic Counts, hygiene indicator organisms such as E.coli, Enterobacteriaceae, and Total Coliforms, and Total Yeasts and Moulds that can cause food spoilage. Food products also undergo qualitative pathogen testing in which the presence of Listeria spp., E. coli 0157, Campylobacter and Salmonella spp. are determined – the main causes of food borne disease outbreaks.
The number one factor governing Microbiological testing would naturally be consumer health and safety. Indirectly, ensuring only safe, quality food products are distributed throughout the entire supply chain protects brand identity. Food products are also expected to meet food safety standards before making their way onto shelves for consumption. Furthermore, microbiological analysis provides insight into optimum storage conditions, the quality of raw materials used, and the effectiveness of preservative methods employed.
The frequency of food tested will depend on the various microbiological risks within your manufacturing process. Risks to evaluate include the ease of bacterial growth in food products being produced, whether the product is in a raw or ready-to-eat state, and if the raw materials used have safety assurance data. Batch testing is generally performed on products with long shelf lives (canned products) while products with shorter shelf lives (fruits and vegetables) undergo less frequent testing. Products containing previous compliance data would also not have to be tested as frequently, with many manufacturing plants scaling down from monthly testing of final products to quarterly testing.
All newly released food products are required to undergo microbiological safety testing until sufficient and satisfactory compliance data is obtained. Food products are generally also tested throughout various stages of the food production process where high microbiological contamination risk areas are identified.
If your business is in any way part of the food industry, be it harvesting, slaughtering, processing or storage, food safety is of utmost importance making microbiological testing of all food products before distribution a necessity.