The company’s Food Safety Response Center (FSRC) in Dreieich, Germany, is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and staffed by a team of five chemists who will mobilise to aid governments and businesses facing an unknown food safety threat involving chemical contaminants.
“This facility is unique in that it is designed to respond rapidly to chemical contaminations”, Thermo Fisher marketing director for food safety Gerry Broski told FoodProductionDaily.com. “It will do no processing of samples, nor routine or contract testing - and will therefore be in a unique position to respond quickly to food contamination emergencies.”
The 55 square-metre lab will be able to develop testing methods for any chemical contamination crisis in food – including toxic elements such as arsenic, mercury and lead, organic pollutants like dioxins, marine biotoxins, pesticides, banned food dyes as well as industrial chemicals such as acrylamide and benzene.
The facility’s speed of response and development of analytical method are exceptional, said the company. The lab’s ability to rally into action in an emergency is unmatched and it can cut the delivery time of analytical methods and instrument standard operation procedures from the current norm of 6-8 weeks to around three, it added.
The site does not address bacterial contamination such as Campylobacter, Salmonella, L.monocytogenes or E.coli O157:H7.
Monitoring and mobilisation
“We will be constantly monitoring for contamination crises around the globe through all our sources,” said Broski. “In the event of an emergency, we will develop a testing method, and provide protocols, training programmes and instrumentation lists.”
Regulators, contract testing labs and end users will be able to take the method developed by the FSRC and analyse the food matrix for the specific chemical contaminant, said Thermo Fisher.
“This is a service that we see as helping government regulatory bodies, research institutes, independent test labs and companies in a crisis,” added Broski. “We see it as supporting global food safety and as an investment in developing our business.”
When the lab is not dealing with a contamination issue, staff will be constantly reviewing and improving its methods and expanding its food safety expertise.
"Identification and containment of food toxicity require a rapid response, otherwise the threat to human health and global commerce is magnified with each passing day," said Marc N. Casper, president and chief executive officer of Thermo Fisher Scientific. "Chemical contamination in food is a growing and costly threat. Our FoodSafetyResponseCenter will be a valuable resource whenever food companies, governments and the people they serve are at risk.”