Brent Pohlman, CEO
The food industry has experienced a flurry of new regulations that has got food growers and manufacturers in a spot. The latest regulations call upon manufacturers to update their labeling with more information about the ingredients, the presence of gluten, allergens, and more such aspects. Genetically modified organism (GMO) testing and pathogen testing mandated by FSMA have fueled the challenges. The regulatory authorities are also zooming in on the processes followed by growers in their operations and are implementing stringent monitoring measures to ensure maximum food quality. In this scenario, Midwest Laboratories stands shoulder to shoulder with its clients, alleviating the burden on them in meeting the regulatory mandates and improving the time to market of their products. As most food growers and manufacturers lack the resources as well as the scientific and technological expertise to satisfy their requirements, Midwest Laboratories steps in with unmatched passion, experience, knowledge, and technologies.
Based out of Omaha, Nebraska, Midwest Laboratories is a full-scale analytical laboratory that aims to realize a safe, healthy world, today and tomorrow. The company offers biological and chemical test analysis to a wide array of industries, including agriculture, animal feed, environmental, food, fuels, and pet food. Midwest Laboratories is home to a variety of sciences: chemistry, biochemistry, biology, microbiology, animal science, agronomy, agricultural science, and environmental science. Operating from its more than 60,000 square feet facility, the company has emerged as a one-stop-shop for its clients to achieve their goals pertaining to food safety, regulations, and bottom lines.
“Midwest Laboratories has all hands-on deck catering to the burgeoning needs of its clients in the food industry,” says Brent Pohlman, CEO of the company. “We have the optimum infrastructure to carry out a vast array of tests, including GMO analysis, at scale.” The company carries out quantitative analysis of the clients’ environmental samples and products and provides them with results in a matter of days.
It is renowned for its quick turnaround of accurate results that has allowed its clients to make quick decisions and deliver safe food products. “Our drive is to get as close as possible to real time so that our clients can make more targeted and fruitful decisions,” says Pohlman.
Instead of relying on historical data, Midwest Laboratories strives to remain proactive to anticipate the client requirements based on the regulatory updates. “We educate ourselves first about the latest regulatory announcements and the market trends. This gives us the confidence to answer the huge volume of questions that are thrown at us by our clients who are anxious about the new rules in place,” says Tim Penne, Chief Science Officer at Midwest Laboratories. “With our guidance, they grow confident in producing products of value.”
In addition to knowledge building, Midwest Laboratories places emphasis on instrumentation. The company has upgraded its facility with new instruments after they anticipated a spike in tests and analyses that clients would require to comply with the new mandates. It has also introduced new processes to ensure the test accuracy of the products. “Genes in food are highly susceptible to contamination. So we refined our process once we became GMO-validated. Today, we have high-quality contamination testing mechanism,” says Jon Hammond, Microbiology Laboratory Supervisor at Midwest. Such practices have led to reliable, relevant, and timely insights for their clients.
Method Development and Talented Team
At the heart of Midwest Laboratories’ value proposition is its expertise in method development. Midwest Laboratories focuses energy on deciding the right method for a project. The company is proud of its immensely talented team that partners with the clients to find them the best testing method. With the incoming request, team Midwest Laboratories gauges which industry it pertains to and brainstorms the right method. As part of method development the company has brought in pesticide screens to conduct contaminant testing. Other new method additions pertaining to food adulteration are targeted at protein content and meat appreciation. The company employs additional staff to ensure the methods are updated to meet the latest industry and regulatory requirements. Midwest Laboratories focuses equally on adopting cutting-edge technologies (after thorough assessment) for method improvements.
In a case study, Midwest Laboratories helped a client solve a problem with one of their finished food products. The client noticed the presence of Salmonella in their finished product arbitrarily in different pieces. As such, it was difficult to isolate the source of it. Midwest Laboratories tested every ingredient used in the preparation of the food product but could not find any trace of Salmonella. It is only when the company carried out the environmental testing of the facility that the actual reason came to light. However, Midwest Laboratories did not stop at that. It analyzed the Salmonella and informed the client about the specific type found out of the 2,400 varieties. With this new information Midwest Laboratories was able to hunt down the source of contamination and root out Salmonella from the client’s facility through intense analysis and data correlation.
Midwest Laboratories has big plans to deliver more value to its growing clientele. The company is doubling down on the microbiology side of things for greater food safety with a new state-of-the-art laboratory built from the ground up. With the new facility acting as the force multiplier, Midwest Laboratories is planning to expand their full service offerings. The company is focused on FSMA regulations and aims to help organizations come out winning in their microbiology studies and product shelf-life studies. The future also holds developing new methods for hemp analysis for the food and pet food industries.