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Check out this recent feature article on laboratory and process testing technology in the latest issue of Food New Zealand magazine.

The business of producing high quality food can be complex, with food manufacturers in New Zealand having stringent quality control systems monitored by highly skilled personnel to ensure their products meet or exceed specified standards. Many Kiwi exporters will agree that meeting international standards and regulations for export markets can be even more complex.

Choosing external partners who have the expertise to support your own quality team in meeting regulatory requirements and also have the technology to deliver fast and accurate test results is an excellent option for meeting customers’ requirements.

Minimising the time into market is vital and choosing a laboratory with the right technology to deliver fast, accurate microbiology testing can be a key component towards efficiency. “There is a wide range of laboratory technology in the microbiology field, so it’s important to understand what technology is used and what this can mean for your results,” says Warwick Aspin, technical manager at AsureQuality’s Auckland Laboratory.“

A positive test result for Listeria, Salmonella or Cronobacter can have catastrophic results, and a false positive test will cause unnecessary delays and stress that can be avoided. To help clients avoid such challenges, AsureQuality has invested in GENE-UP® Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) equipment, utilising dual detection technology which improves the specificity of the test and delivers a very low rate of false-positive results.”

Advancing technology has meant that the availability and application of PCR technologies in food testing is now more common in New Zealand. PCR testing provides fast results which are more accurate than traditional microbiological culture methodology and can deliver real benefits to manufacturers when time matters. “While positive results are relatively uncommon for New Zealand manufacturers, getting results quickly is critical,” says Aspin. “Rapid testing allows a manufacturer to identify a contaminated batch and prevent its release to market.”

Along with delivering rapid results for testing of food pathogens, there are other benefits to be gained from PCR technology, particularly for manufacturers in the fast growing ready-to-eat category. This is an area of production where time really matters, and a quick turn-around-time for testing can mean these products get to market much quicker than with traditional testing methods. “In some cases, we’ve been able to shorten release times for ready-to-eat products, allowing the product to gain an additional three days of shelf-life in market,” says Aspin. “This is good news for both the company and for the consumer.”

MALDI-TOF is another innovative technology that is delivering rapid results for customers of AsureQuality. This technology at their Auckland Laboratory allows for rapid identification of isolates, with some results being available within one hour, compared to the traditional turn-around-times of between 5-10 days. This method was developed by Bruker specifically for the rapid and precise identification of a wide range of micro-organisms and is currently being utilised by a large number of New Zealand manufacturers.

With food safety and regulatory standards becoming a constantly moving landscape, technology advances can play a significant role in keeping ahead of the game. AsureQuality’s GENE-UP® PCR and MALDI-TOF technologies are two great examples of smart solutions which are now available to New Zealand food manufacturers looking for fast and accurate results.

For more information on our testing capabilities contact us.