Dr. Heather Secrist, SVP, MD
"The New Food Economy" is how the team at FoodChainID (FCID) refers to today’s elaborate food supply chain. And because the “commodity” in question here is food, one cannot emphasize enough, the importance of being compliant to the evolving and stringent regulatory landscape upon which this supply chain is founded. With ever evolving consumer preferences, diverse regulations in each country, and fragmented digitization of supply chain and sourcing, there is a high safety risk associated with food products and ingredients. Managing risk and providing transparency to consumers requires more than mere tech-enabled solutions or standalone testing and certification solutions. To this end, FCID provides the expertise and fully integrated technology-driven services necessary to support the production and distribution of safe, ethical, and sustainable food.
“Whether it’s a small Amish farmer who sends in one sample a year for testing or a global corporation with manufacturing or retail facilities in multiple countries, FCID can provide a solution for them that is customized and tailored to their business objectives,” says Dr. Heather Secrist, Sr. Vice President, Americas at FCID. . The company’s comprehensive food safety technology and integrated services extends across testing, certification, supply chain compliance, sustainability, and label claim verification. Since its inception in 1996, FCID today, caters to more than 30,000 clients in over 100 countries, an achievement that testifies to their value proposition. “We were the first commercial lab in North America to offer DNA-based GMO testing, the first to use digital PCR for testing, the first company to offer a non-GMO certification standard and the first technical administrator for the Non- GMO Project Product Verification program,” prides Secrist.
One of FCID’s flagship offerings is their Metagenomic analysis service that provides meat, dairy, and food packaging industries a solution beyond classical microbiology testing. The solution delivers next-generation sequencing technology that allows huge numbers of different individual DNA sequences to be read at any one time. It is an all-encompassing bioinformatic solution for managing food quality and processing, reducing food spoilage, and increasing packaged product shelf-life. FCID’s sample preparation technology provides an accurate and reliable assessment of the product sample microbiome (relative proportion of microorganisms in the sample). And their proprietary exclusion technology enables a deeper understanding of the underlying microbiome by excluding the known dominant microorganisms to best interpret the results.
The information from Metagenomic analysis caters to several applications such as quality control, shelf-life extension, and product development. One such FCID client, a yogurt manufacturer, looked to identify specific microorganisms related to spoilage in their products. Using Metagenomics analysis, the manufacturer was subsequently able to increase the shelf-life of their product and improve their profit margins.
To further increase the breadth and depth of services to clients , FCID recently acquired Decernis, a leading provider of technology and content solutions for compliance, safety, and risk management in the food, consumer products, and the chemical sector. “With the addition of Decernis we have a broader and deeper portfolio of unique supply chain compliance capabilities complementing our product and ingredient management tool inSYTE our supply chain compliance and management software SupplyTrak, and our HorizonScan ingredient risk management system with the intelligence gathering solution Horizon Scanning, Food Fraud Database, and regulatory libraries gComply and gComply plus,” adds Secrist.
“We’re now able to go beyond big data! We have massive amounts of structured data (or what we call content) as part of our platform. gComply and gComply Plus, and our library of lexicons, for example, would take years to pull together and on top of that, we’ve built a platform that we believe positions ourselves as leaders in this space” she adds. Today, gComply Plus features one of the most comprehensive and complete sets of data covering 216 countries, global research, and expert teams, more English translations than any provider, and over 5-million term lexicon of substances, commodities, regulatory terms, and hazard classes monitors and interprets across 40 languages.
FCID is also the exclusive distributor of Fera’s HorizonScan, which is touted as the world’s most complete database on food safety and quality incident reporting. A company that had black pepper as one of their ingredients in a product conducted a search during a HorizonScan demo and found that black pepper sourced from one specific country and supplier was at very high risk. “In this case our solution allowed the client to immediately identify a critical area of high risk with a multi-ingredient product and change suppliers to increase the safety of their product,” recalls Mark Dabroski, SVP, Commercial Services at the company. FCID also brings to the table SupplyTrack for compliance management, a cloud-based, comprehensive solution for Non-GMO Project Verification and USDA Organic Certification.
Having carved an ever-so unique niche in the market, the company strives to expand its portfolio and geographic presence by continuing to create an integrated solution to help customers meet their business objectives with customized complimentary services. “And we continue to take the lead in providing companies the tools that they need to comply with ever evolving regulations, in a way that is faster, easier, and more integrated than the industry standard,” concludes Ruud Overbeek, Chief of Strategy and Business Development at Decernis, and who is now part of team FCID. “The solutions we provide are not just technology. We organize the data to complement our certification services and create custom testing protocols based on our customer’s business objectives. Add with our deep understanding of the global supply chain we can provide our customers market access in their key strategic markets,” Secrist concludes.