The Food Safety Update section of Food Manufacturing is designed to offer our
readers insight into the state of food safety concerns across the industry. We
received hundreds of responses to this month’s survey on laboratory testing.
Krystal Gabert, Editor
Usually, when we talk about food safety, we’re talking prevention. How do we keep food from being contaminated? What can we do to ensure sanitary processing techniques? But food safety is often
reactive. If food is contaminated, how do we keep it out of the hands (and
mouths) of consumers? What is the quickest method of detection?
What is the greatest factor impacting
changes in your QA/QC and labora-
tory testing policies?
The company’s growing
or contracting profits—
ments of cer-
When your facility performs lab tests,
what are you testing for?
Consistency in size, weight, etc. —57.6%
Pathogens, biological contaminants
and other food safety dangers—56.5%
Accuracy in packaging
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80
We employ QA/QC and/or lab techs who perform tests in-house—
We send samples to an outside lab— 24.1%
Both of the above— 32.5%
We do not test 14.5%
As illustrated above, the vast majority of processors report adopting
some sort of lab testing procedures, whether in-house or through contract.
The size of these facilities varies — nearly two-thirds of respondents
report employing between 0 to 5 lab technicians, while 20. 5 percent report
employing 12 or more — as do the reasons for implementing testing, as
seen in the chart at right.
According to the responses to this survey, the staffing levels of food laboratories appear to be relatively stable, with, perhaps, slight growth. While
about two-thirds of respondents reported no change in either contract
lab staff or in-house lab staff (or both), the percentage of readers reporting gains in in-house lab staff was 14 points higher than those reporting
losses ( 24. 4 percent versus 10. 3 percent), and those reporting an increase
in contract lab staff was slightly up from those reporting a decrease ( 15. 2
percent versus 13. 9 percent).
As seen in the chart at left, Food Manufacturing readers report a wide