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Food Safety Testing

23 August 2023 Posted by: makeyourmark Uncategorized

What is food safety testing and why is it important?

Food safety testing is a scientific-based method that evaluates the safety of food based on microbiological, physical, or chemical composition. It is used to identify and measure the presence of harmful substances in food, such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins, and heavy metals. Testing plays a very important role in the food production and supply chain, ensuring that the food we eat does not pose a health risk to us. Foodborne illness is a major public health problem, and food and beverage testing is one of the most effective ways to prevent it. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other regulatory bodies have worked tirelessly to establish the firm standards we have for food safety today. 

What are some common food safety testing methods?

There are many food safety testing methods, but these are the most common:

  • Microbiological testing: This type of testing is used to identify and measure the presence of bacteria, viruses, and parasites in food. It is the most common type of food safety testing, and is used to detect foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella, Listeria, and Escherichia coli (E. coli).
    • Culture-based methods: These methods involve growing the microorganisms in a laboratory culture medium. It can take time, but it is the most accurate way to identify and measure the presence of microorganisms.
    • Rapid methods: These methods are faster than culture-based methods, but they may not be as accurate. Some rapid methods use DNA probes to identify specific microorganisms. Others use fluorescent antibodies to detect the presence of microorganisms.
  • Physical testing: This type of testing is used to identify and measure the presence of physical hazards in food, such as glass, metal, plastic, and bone—which can cause injury if ingested. 
    • Metal detection: This method uses a metal detector to identify the presence of metal in food products such as canned goods and nuts. 
    • X-ray inspection: This method uses X-rays to identify the presence of foreign objects in food products such as meat and poultry. 
  • Chemical testing: This type of testing is used to identify and measure the presence of chemicals in food, such as pesticides, herbicides, and heavy metals. It is used to ensure that food does not contain harmful levels of these chemicals.
    • Chromatography: This method separates the different components of a food sample and identifies them by their chemical properties. It is commonly used for detecting pesticides and herbicides in food. Explore ILT’s Chromatography product catalog here.  
    • Spectroscopy: This method uses light to identify the different components of a food sample, a common method for detecting heavy metals in food.

How does laboratory testing contribute to food safety?

In addition to the testing methods listed above, laboratory testing can also be used to track incidences of foodborne illness. By testing food samples from different sources, laboratories can identify areas where food safety intervention is needed. Another way laboratory testing contributes to food safety is through the advancement of food safety technologies. The development of methods like rapid tests for foodborne pathogens can greatly improve the speed and accuracy of food safety testing and better prevent foodborne illness.

Innovations in Food Testing Techniques and Equipment

Some of the most promising innovations are:

  • Rapid tests: Rapid tests are becoming increasingly available for the detection of foodborne pathogens. These tests can provide results in minutes or hours, compared to days or weeks for traditional culture-based methods. This makes them ideal for use in food production and processing facilities, where quick results are needed to prevent the spread of contamination.
  • Molecular methods: Molecular methods are based on the detection of DNA or RNA from foodborne pathogens. These methods are very sensitive and can detect even low levels of contamination. They are also becoming more affordable and easier to use, making them a viable option for routine food safety testing.
  • Edible sensors: Edible sensors are tiny devices that can be incorporated into food products to detect the presence of foodborne pathogens. These sensors can be made from a variety of materials, including food-grade plastics and polymers. They can be activated by the presence of a pathogen, and they can then release a signal that can be detected by the consumer or by food safety inspectors.
  • Internet of Things (IoT): IoT devices are being used to monitor the temperature and humidity of food during transportation and storage. This information can be used to prevent the growth of foodborne pathogens and to ensure that food is kept safe.
  • Blockchain: Blockchain is a secure and transparent way to track the movement of food from farm to table. This technology can be used to verify the authenticity of food products and to ensure that they have been handled safely.

As a manufacturer in the septa and seals industry, ILT’s products are applicable across many industries, including food packaging and the food and beverage industry. Read more about the seals and septa industry on our blog page or learn more about ILT, the world leader in manufacturing seals and septa here.