The need for laboratory testing, inspection and certification (TIC) has never been greater and is growing.
A recent estimation of the value of the burgeoning global food safety testing market is that it could be greater than pass $7 688 million by 2025 and grow at an anticipated compound annual growth rate of 6.1% to 2025.(1)
This demand for TIC is being driven a rising global food trade, changing government regulations and by a new generation of consumer that is health conscious and values the environment, among other things. As a result product contamination recalls on the rise, causing significant financial losses, reputational damage, supply chain disruption and stricter regulation.
Over the past decade a series of food fraud scandals across the world and disease outbreaks have required laboratory testing to go beyond the norm.
Listeriosis outbreak in South Africa
A South African example is the outbreak of listeriosis in 2017/2018. It was found to be caused by a listeria strain called sequence-type six (ST6). Two major manufacturers of polony – cheap processed ready-to-eat meat – recalled all their products. At the time the government also suggested that South Africans avoid all types and brands of polony. (2)
There are several well-known strains of listeria but none of these is lethal. It took serotyping to identify the lethal strain of listeria, which was found to be a mutation of the common strains. Besides the enormous cost to the meat processing industry and the manufacturer at the source of the outbreak, this incident has led to a significant increase in demand for laboratory testing and more in-depth testing versus the traditional testing for hygiene and compliance.(3)
Manufacturers and processors in Africa need a secure supply chain to ensure their products’ safety and quality from farm to fork. Moreover, accessing international markets requires compliance with strict regulations.
While many countries, in line with regulations, carry out extensive laboratory testing, far more in terms of regulation needs to be achieved to circumvent Africa from being the dumping ground for substandard products. For example, in 2018 as much as 40% of the pharmaceutical products entering Africa, beyond Southern Africa, were counterfeit.
South African based BV M&L laboratory is a member of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the only independent laboratory geared for pharmaceutical testing in South Africa. It carries out the testing for major pharmaceutical companies that import their products; as well as the overflow testing and one to five year shelf-life testing for international pharmaceutical companies which have their own testing laboratories in the country.
Another future consideration is climate change. This too is going to have far-reaching direct and indirect effects. Extreme weather events and higher annual average temperatures will affect the persistence and occurrence of bacteria, viruses, parasites, harmful algae, fungi, and the patterns of their corresponding foodborne diseases and risk of toxic contamination.(4)
Outsourcing your laboratory testing
The rising challenges of food safety and testing are complex. Add to this the severe collapse of the global economy in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic which has put companies under strain.
For companies wanting to optimise performance and deliver leading edge testing capabilities while minimising costs, outsourcing to an independent third-party organisation, such as Bureau Veritas with a depth and breadth of expertise, could be a strategic option.
Bureau Veritas, a world leader in testing, inspection and certification, has anticipated this trend and by leveraging the expertise of its 300 laboratories worldwide including 10 in Africa, to launch a suite of innovative partnership solutions for companies, ranging from laboratory design for lean operations to fully outsourced operational management.
Outsourcing of on-site testing is a logical step for many operators who want to focus on their core business. Reshape Your Laboratory has been developed in response to approaches from companies operating in industries as diverse as agri-food, chemical production, oil refining, and mining. (5)
Partnering with Bureau Veritas offers strategic and financial advantages, including internal cost-savings or a conversion of fixed overheads into variable costs, greater flexibility, enhanced expertise, innovative digital solutions, and risk mitigation all of which allow you to focus on your core activities.
(2) Food Safety News
(3) Bureau Veritas M&L laboratories South Africa interview