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Elanco to launch food safety business

By Rory Harrington , 20-Jan-2010
Last updated on 20-Jan-2010 at 13:04 GMT

Elanco has announced plans to launch a food safety division focused on the meat and poultry sectors in response to heightened concerns over foodborne pathogens.

The US-based company said its Elanco Food Solutions will work to develop new technologies for meat packing and processing plants. The unit will look at ways of helping those in the food chain tackle foodborne pathogens such as E.coli 0157: H7, salmonella and Listeria.

Elanco, a major player in the animal health segment, admitted there was no magic bullet on addressing the problem of food contamination in the meat industry.

“Consumers have high expectations for their food to be safe, so Elanco Food Solutions is providing technologies to reduce food-borne pathogens in packing and processing plants,” said K. Douglas Miller, PhD, director of Elanco Food Solutions. “We realise there is no single ‘silver-bullet’ solution, which is why we will deliver multiple pre- and post-harvest interventions for beef, poultry and pork packers and processors.”

The company said it would introduce a number of food safety technologies for beef and poultry packers and processors “in the coming months”.

Major political issue

Its announcement comes as food safety has becomes a major political issue in the US and the reputation of the nation’s meat industry has come under scrutiny in the face of a near constant stream of product recalls. The latest yesterday, saw Californian company Huntington Meat Packing Inc recall 390 tonnes of ground beef over fears of E.coli contamination – with some of the batches under suspicion dating back almost two years.

Food-borne illnesses cost the US between $5 billion and $22 billion annually, with Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 alone costing more than $3 billion, said Elanco.

In line with the increased concerns and heightened regulation over the past few years, food safety has become a growth market. Rival company Neogen reported last month that its food safety business had driven an 18-per-cent growth in its Q2 revenue to $4.6m. Financial consultants Deloitte also said in a recent report that food safety would be a major engine for growth.

Benchmarking

In its announcement this week, Elanco said it will also offer a proprietary benchmarking system - known as Food Safety Knowledge Solutions - that uses statistical process control methodology to help packers and processors manage pathogen control systems.

“Food Safety Knowledge Solutions is not a ranking system. Rather, it’s a systematic, objective way for packers to analyze and compare their data against industry standards and to identify the factors that contribute to higher or lower pathogen levels in their facilities,” said Miller. “Because the program helps packers and processors analyze both pathogen data and operational data, it allows them to more effectively manage their total pathogen-control systems.”