A bold invention developed by a team of researchers in Singapore has cut the waiting time for food product safety tests in half.
It has been able to automate total viable counts, coliform counts, generic E. coli and Enterobacteriaceae, lactic acid bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, as well as detect the presence of yeasts and molds.
Tempo is an innovative food quality indicator system which was developed at the Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) food and safety center, in partnership with BioMerieux, a French company that manufactures In Vitro Diagnostic systems.
It was released in mid-June of this year and promises to determine if a food product is safe for distribution and public consumption in approximately 24 hours. This is around 100 times faster than the existing processes.
High Demand for Food Testing Tech
According to The Straits Times, small and medium-sized businesses can use the technology within NYP’s testing facility for a fee. This will allow the said companies to conduct research as well as rapid testing for the food products they have developed and are planning to sell.
Market reports state that the food safety testing market is expected to be worth $17.16 Billion by year 2021. The expansion is fueled by stricter testing parameters as consumers become more concerned about global outbreaks of food borne illnesses.
Food is tested for the presence of pathogens and other microorganisms which affects product hygiene and food spoilage.
In recent years, there have been countless product recalls ordered by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This is due to the presence of various pathogens within the products, which in turn contaminated the food. Salmonella, usually detected in eggs and chicken, accounted for the highest incidences of contamination. Other pathogens include Campylobacter and E. coli.
Rapid testing technologies like Tempo will make the work in laboratories more efficient. Especially considering the instrument can analyse both food and environmental samples. It has been able to automate total viable counts, coliform counts, generic E. coli and Enterobacteriaceae, lactic acid bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, as well as detect the presence of yeasts and molds.
Technologies like Tempo are sought after because they are quick, accurate, efficient and easy to use. The faster a product is tested to be safe for distribution, the faster it can be made available in stores and groceries all over the world.
The most profitable food testing market is produce, which includes fresh and processed vegetables. Additional lucrative markets consist of beef and poultry; dairy (including eggs); seafood and fish; and lastly, grains.
Among the companies offering this kind of food testing service, BioMerieux ranks as the third largest. The top two are Qualikon (DuPont) and 3M, as reported by Rapid Biosystems. EMD Chemicals (Merck), Bio-Rad Laboratories, BD Diagnostics and Neogen have also been tagged as major players. However, apart from food testing, these companies also conduct tests related to the life sciences and pharmaceutical industries.
Tempo, for its part, will also become an effective training tool for NYP students who want to learn more about the food safety industry. Reports say that the Asia Pacific region will be the fastest growing one when it comes to food safety testing. Apart from the development of bold and cutting-edge testing equipment, countries like Japan are enforcing more stringent rules and regulations to prevent food-borne infections and outbreaks.