Enabling Food Safety with SampleManager LIMS™

Food Safety

The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 and the EFSA regulation of 2010 require food safety labs to be certified under ISO/IEC 17025 and ISO 22000. Hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) certification is part of these requirements. A SampleManager LIMS can play a key role in this certification process by ensuring that food and beverage quality assurance and control (QA/QC) labs can adequately perform their functions. The food and beverage solution for SampleManager LIMS is designed to manage the seven principles of a HACCP plan and enable compliance with ISO standards. As an integrated LIMS, ELN, LES, and SDMS, its capabilities are well-suited to use in food and beverage QA/QC laboratories.

Monitoring for Contamination and Optimization Throughout the Agricultural Cycle

The most important role that a SampleManager LIMS plays in food and beverage safety is to stop food-borne pathogens before they spread and become illnesses and to quickly identify the source in the event that an outbreak does occur. This is efficiently done by developing a sampling plan for soil and water testing on a regular basis.

A SampleManager LIMS can be used to monitor growing conditions early in the agricultural supply chain, as a way to ensure that soil bacteria and irrigation water do not introduce contamination. Local agricultural soil and water testing laboratories also can help farmers identify what nutrients are available or lacking in their farm’s environment. These testing labs can be an important resource in identifying when contamination occurred. That information can be used to identify produce harvested or irrigated during that time so that those lots can be evaluated for potential contamination.

SampleManager LIMS in Food and Beverage Processing Facilities

In food and beverage processing facilities, environmental controls are strictly adhered to. Temperature, humidity, and air quality all have an effect on the production of foods and beverages for human consumption. Additionally, bacterial growth must be prevented. Critical control points are used in the processing facilities to monitor for contamination. Contamination limits are determined for each point and samples that fail are flagged for corrective action.

The SampleManager Environmental Monitoring package is able to manage sampling plans, necessary test protocols, and trend reporting in one simple interface. Features include the ability to add location information for each sampling plan, and to create dashboards that visualize trends over time.

All food and beverage products must undergo stability testing in order to meet the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requirements for products sold for human consumption. The integrated Stability module in SampleManager LIMS can easily manage many different stability studies at once, all with different protocols as needed. The stability module offers a matrix that allows various combinations of batches, time factors, and storage conditions.

Read more about SampleManager food and beverage applications here.

Traceability in Food and Beverage Processing

The global supply chain for agricultural products has increased the complexity of tracing the origins of our food. Traceability is a key element in the globally recognized ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation. In cities and other parts of the world without ready access to fresh produce, consumers are becoming more concerned with knowing where their food comes from and what was done to it along the way. The growth of the farm-to-fork movement has made accountability top of mind for producers and consumers alike. Some of the parameters that SampleManager LIMS can capture in the food and beverage supply chain include the provenance of grass-fed meat, organic farming practices, or pesticide use.

SampleManager LIMS plays an important part in traceability by monitoring instrument calibration and maintenance schedules, managing workflows for lab personnel, and securely storing records in an easily searchable form. When these capabilities are combined with barcodes or RFID tags, a pallet of vegetables can truly be traced from farm to fork.

Standardization and Data Integrity with SampleManager LIMS

The built-in SampleManager LES provides step-by-step guidance on SOPs and methods for all lab personnel. A significant feature of the LES is the ability to upload video and images to aid in process description. The LES captures instrument data directly as well. These capabilities make it possible to ensure adherence to SOPs and add a layer of security during an FDA or accredited third-party inspection. Inspectors will want to see your quality policies, risk analyses, corrective action plans, equipment maintenance logs, and training procedures, among many other items. These are all able to be tracked in the SampleManager LES.

Future Trends in Food Safety

The FDA’s new Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response, Frank Yiannas, is an expert on blockchain and its application in supply chain security. Because records on a blockchain cannot be altered easily, it provides a trusted digital ledger to record multiple complex transactions. Incorporating blockchain in agricultural processes provides traceability and transparency, which will also allow consumers more insight into the origins of their food and begin to provide accountability for fair labor practices in agriculture. Although blockchain hasn’t been incorporated into LIMS products yet, some of the new food analysis techniques like polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and other culture-independent food-safety testing techniques are using blockchain. The instruments for these tests interface to SampleManager LIMS as easily as the instruments currently in use. Expect to hear more about blockchain in food safety in the near future.

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