Food Safety Analysis, LLC


Chemical Testing

There already exist many different laboratories able to perform food-related chemical testing. Some aspects of this have already been addressed in other sections (see "Lab Testing" and "Lab Audit" above). Nevertheless, regulatory requirements associated with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) will certainly push chemical testing needs in directions that currently are not well covered.

A good example of this is a technique called High Performance Thin Layer Chromatography (HPTLC). FSMA requires food manufacturers to validate the ingredients they purchase (and thereby reaffirm the certificate of analysis they receive from their suppliers). Such validation is a relatively simple matter if the ingredients themselves are fairly simple, such as sugars, vitamins, vanillin, etc. However, the more complex the ingredient the bigger the problem. Examples of such things are botanical materials such as green tea. Concentrated syrups are another example. Entire samples like this cannot be injected into an HPLC or a GC because they are likely to destroy an expensive analytic column. One can, of course, extract the complex ingredient and analyze for certain representative components but such fractionation leaves open the possibility that the portion of the ingredient which was removed during such fractionation was, obviously, not subject to testing and so may be different.

The beauty of HPTLC for this purpose is that the separation medium being used is disposable. So, one cannot ruin what one cannot reuse anyway. The capital expenses involved in acquiring an HPTLC system are relatively high (ca. $75,000). This equipment seems quite popular right now with pharmaceutical companies. A food manufacturer of sufficiently robust cash flow should have no problem purchasing such equipment but may have difficulty justifying the outlay if the frequency of its use in-house did not justify that cost. One path around this difficulty would be for several food manufacturers to collaborate on the purchase of such equipment and let Food Safety Analysis coordinate its use. Interested manufacturers should send an e-mail to:

Other examples where shared analytical capability makes sense are in such things as pulsed-field electrophoresis of DNA samples from environmental isolates belonging to known pathogenic genera that were found in routine environmental microbiology testing as described in the section above devoted to environmental microbiology. Another example would be some of the latest Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy equipment available now.

Copyright © 2012 by M. Mychajlonka, Ph. D.