In this month’s edition of Food Safety Insights in Food Safety Magazine, we present Part Two of our survey of 200 food processors and their plans for their increasing test volumes. In Part One, we discussed the amount by which processors are projecting their test volumes will increase. In this Part Two, we present details for how this increased level of testing will be analyzed, with perhaps some surprises about methods used and where the testing will be done.
In the article, we detail how the testing will change. Some of the changes were expected, based on the run-rates for testing and the trends that we have seen in the past. The data, however, showed one significant exception – for samples being analyzed for pathogens, we saw a far larger share of the use of PCR than we would have expected.
PCR and Outsourcing
Some of this increased volume can be attributed to the organic, above-market growth of PCR over the past few years. PCR is certainly a reliable, widely used technology in food testing. But this increase may also relate to the accelerating trend in outsourcing testing to commercial labs. As processors outsource their samples, PCR seems to be more frequently selected as the analytical method used than it was when the samples were analyzed in-plant.
This possibility certainly makes sense. PCR requires expensive instrumentation and technical expertise to analyze samples properly. Every commercial lab will have a level of analyst capabilities and infrastructure that allows them to use PCR. Commercial labs will also have a high incentive to recommend the use of PCR to optimize the throughput of their instruments. So it is likely that what we are seeing here may be a strong indication that the trend in outsourcing to commercial labs is not only driving lab volume, but further driving the conversion to PCR – and faster than we would have expected.
Curious about these changes? The article can be found here: FOOD SAFETY INSIGHTS