The real challenge for food safety labs now is the amount of data that they are generating. “As analytical techniques have evolved, and instrumentation methods have become more sensitive, you can now process more and more information from a single sample. That kind of information becomes extremely difficult for a lab manager to process and to sift,” says Colin Thurston, Product Director, Informatics, for Thermo Fisher Scientific.
The big challenge for food processors is not the quality of the food but the brand. If something goes wrong with the food product, the consumer is going to remember it. So it is really critical for the lab to able to get the results to verify that the food is safe to eat, that too within a short time.
What role does Laboratory Information Management System or LIMS play? “With the right LIMS solution, we can have the ability to automate, highlight the outliers, know which samples we have to go back and recheck, and which ones they have to reprocess because of challenges with the data.
“Labs now are facing challenges around regulatory compliance. Regulations are changing and the food chain is becoming extended. Labs have to process a particular sample against many regulations as food companies want that product to be shipped to the U.S., consumed in Japan, Europe and so on. LIMS can store multiple sets of checks, carry out that process, and validate that product against all these requirements,” explains Thurston.