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3M testing tech helps fuel $9bn market

By Jenni Spinner+

26-Aug-2013

Technology advanced by 3M and other companies is helping fuel the rapid growth of the global food testing market.

The latest figures from intelligence firm MarketsAndMarkets.com predict global food testing sales will exceed $14 billion USD by 2018, up from $9 billion USD in 2012. The figure covers technology and equipment for testing pathogens, toxins (such as pesticides), genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and other substances.

Likely reasons for the surge in sales include stepped up regulations such as the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and heightened consumer awareness of contamination risks.

Technological advancement

Niki Montgomery, global marketing manager of 3M Food Safety, told FoodProductionDaily.com that advancing food safety tech is crucial to consumers and processors alike.

"Foodborne pathogens are not only a major threat to public health, they have the opportunity to destroy a strong business and its reputation in short order," she said.

Analytical development

3M's recent food testing innovations include the 3M Molecular Detection System. The unit merges two different analytical technologies: isothermal DNA amplification and bioluminescence detection.

According to Montgomery, the isothermal DNA amplification identifies, targets and amplifies multiple regions of a sample genome in real time. The company reports the method is faster, simpler and less expensive than other detection methods.

Crucial collaboration

Working with food processing firms, agencies and other food safety customers at the development stage is crucial to ensure testing methods meet their needs, Montgomery said.

"We wanted to understand what food processors were looking for and what their pain points were when it came to test systems for pathogens like Listeria monocytogenes, so we talked with companies around the world and across different industries," she said.

Additionally, Montgomery said, food processors need rapid response to avoid costly downtime, and user-friendly technology to minimize the risk of operator error.