According to Neogen Labs, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has many petfood companies asking some important questions about the role of testing:
- Will FSMA require petfood companies to perform more testing?
- Will companies have to use third-party accredited labs?
- Will the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have access to test results?
There have also been additional questions around any in-house testing, possible restrictions on the types of labs that can perform these tests, methods that can be used and confidentiality of results. The Acheson Group (TAG) says the bottom line is that while FSMA provides FDA with the authority to develop a program for the accreditation of laboratories, the requirement for the use of these laboratories is extremely limited. Petfood companies will not have to use FDA-accredited laboratories, or any third-party labs for that matter, for their routine testing needs. Companies that currently perform testing in-house can continue to do so: FDA is not going to stop or discourage you as long your laboratory is using validated methods and is capable of performing the tests.
To be clear, says TAG and Neogen Labs:
- None of the proposed rules would require the use of a third-party laboratory.
- None of the proposed rules would require the use of an “accredited laboratory.”
- The term “accredited laboratory” as used in FSMA has nothing to do with ISO 17025 accreditation; this would be an independent FDA-established program.
- FDA has not yet established a program for accrediting laboratories.
- FDA will not require laboratories to report test results to FDA unless the tests are required such as to satisfy the requirements of import alerts.
So who should you trust for third-party laboratory services? What reliable testing products, devices and methods are available for petfood and treat makers looking for in-house capabilities? Below is our list of innovative testing systems and services available to the petfood industry.
Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc. (www.bio-rad.com) offers the iQ-Check Prep automation system. The system speeds food pathogen testing by automating sample preparation for detection by real-time PCR and automating DNA extraction and PCR plate set-up. iQ-Check Prep runs up to four different assays at once and performs 500 tests in an eight-hour shift. With barcodes, LIMS integration and real-time monitoring of each pipette step with liquid level sensing, the system increases efficiency, according to the company. The system also uses ready-to-use reagents, an intuitive user interface and displacement pipetting to limit maintenance and waste.
The company also offers the iQ-Check Salmonella II kit. The kit has AOAC approval for real-time PCR detection of Salmonella from wet cat food, dry dog food, stainless steel, plastic, ceramic and concrete. This method involves a single primary 20-hour enrichment in buffered peptone water, followed by a one-step high throughput DNA extraction in 96-well plate format.
Perten Instruments (www.perten.com) offers the rapid visco analyzer (RVA), a cooking, stirring viscometer with ramped temperature and variable shear capability. It is commonly used in laboratories to measure the pasting properties of rice and provides the advantages of speed, ease of use and small sample size requirements. The instrument will analyze as little as two or three grams of sample using international standard methods or a company's tailor-made test routine of mixing, measuring, heating and cooling.
Silliker (www.sillikersolutioncenter.com) opened the Silliker Solution Center, their flagship laboratory in North America, just this year. The center is comprised of Silliker's Illinois Analytical Laboratory and the research activities of the Food Science Center. The state-of-the-art laboratory brings together food scientists, microbiologists and chemists to assist clients in delivering safe and nutritious petfood to consumers and their pets. The Analytical Laboratory offers services in microbiology (specifically pathogens and quantitative), nutritional chemistry, contaminant analyses and physical testing. In addition to their food safety testing services, Silliker also offers a full portfolio of contract research services, including customized study designs. Services of The Food Science Center include challenge and shelf-life studies, product and process validation studies, method validations, proficiency programs, and microbial identification and strain typing.
Chestnut Labs (www.chestnutlabs.com) offers a wide variety of microbiological and proximate analytical chemistry testing services including microbiology, chemistry and courier. The company also offers petfood safety solutions like preparation and assessment co-manufacturers audit, food safety audit, good laboratory practices and good manufacturing practices. Chestnut Labs also provides partnership in study design for antimicrobial effectiveness testing, challenge studies, in-plant validations, laboratory validations, media certification, shelf-life studies and time kill studies—in vitro. Training and consultation are also available.
MP BioMedical (www.mpbio.com) offers the FastPrep-24 5G Instrument, a high-speed bench top reciprocating homogenizer offering speed and performance for the optimal lysis of biological samples, says the company. Developed for difficult and resistant samples, the FastPrep-24 5G Instrument grinds, homogenizes and lyses thoroughly and quickly any tissue and cells, providing easy and reproducible isolation and purification of stable RNA, active proteins and full-length genomic DNA. The FastPrep-24â„¢ 5G is a software-controlled, standalone instrument, designed with a user-friendly touch screen and unique features of highest speed and power, shortest processing times, intuitive programming, fully automated protocols, and over 70 pre-programmed optimized protocols for your application needs.