Marc N. Casper, President and CEO
If it is not safe, it is not food!
Access to sufficient quantities of safe and nutritious food is a basic human right and key to sustaining good health. Yet every year, more than 420,000 people die, and around 600 million people (almost one in ten) worldwide fall sick from consuming contaminated food. Notably, foodborne hazards are known to cause over 200 acute and chronic diseases, from digestive tract infections to cancer. These statistics show that no matter how careful or cautious food producers or suppliers are, even the ‘safest’ food can get contaminated by pathogens.
The implications of unsafe food, however, ring far beyond an individual’s illness. Foodborne diseases impede socioeconomic development by straining healthcare systems and harming national economies, tourism, and trade. Precisely because of megatrends like these—that influence the mass production and distribution of food—the facets of food quality and safety have always been paramount for the food industry. Because when food is not safe, human development simply cannot take place!
Against this backdrop, a company that is leading the charge to curb the spread of such unsafe food and ensure global food safety is Thermo Fisher Scientific [NYSE:TMO]—a world leader in serving science and an innovative biotechnology company. Through its premier brands—Thermo Scientific, Applied Biosystems, Invitrogen, Fisher Scientific, and Unity Lab Services—the company offers an unmatched combination of innovative technologies and comprehensive services. In particular, the company’s Thermo Scientific wing takes a significant stand against the micro-sized food safety antagonists through its array of cutting-edge testing solutions.
Making the World Healthier, Cleaner, and Safer
Thermo Scientific understands that there are excessive food safety concerns coming from today’s health-conscious consumers, and not without reason. An approximate $110 billion is lost every year in medical expenses resulting from unsafe food, according to World Health Organization (WHO). Moreover, contaminated food creates a vicious cycle of disease and malnutrition, particularly affecting infants, young children, elderlies, and the sick.
Thermo Scientific’s innovative food testing products and an array of quality assurance solutions, along with educational resources, are proving vital for the food industry to meet the highest standards of food quality, safety, and authenticity that today’s consumers worldwide expect.
Thermo Scientific’s innovative food testing products and an array of quality assurance solutions, along with educational resources, are proving vital for the food industry to meet the highest standards of food quality, safety, and authenticity that today’s consumers worldwide expect
To that end, Thermo Fisher Scientific also inaugurated various global food testing laboratories, devoted solely to contain costly and life-threatening chemical contamination crises. The Food Safety Response Centers are equipped with cutting-edge machinery and staffed by world-class chemists to save governments and businesses from facing an unknown food safety threat involving chemical contaminants. Talking about these initiatives, Marc N. Casper, president and CEO of Thermo Fisher Scientific, says, “Identification and containment of food toxicity require a rapid response; otherwise, the threat to human health and global commerce is magnified with each passing day. Our Food Safety Response Center will be a valuable resource whenever food companies, governments, and the people they serve are at risk. It’s an excellent example of how we enable our customers to make the world safer.”
Supercharging Food Analysis
The important job of characterizing food properties in today’s modern laboratory—from pesticide residue analysis, mycotoxin analysis, and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) to food labeling—helps ensure high-quality and safe food products and consumer confidence. However, scientists ensuring food safety and quality face an increasing number of analytical testing challenges as new and stricter regulations keep being enforced.
To address such setbacks, Thermo Scientific offers a broad range of innovative gas chromatography, mass spectrometry, laboratory equipment, and plasticware products for better food safety analysis. The company’s mass spectrometry (GC-MS), liquid chromatography, and tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS) systems, for example, provide companies with complete end-to-end food analysis workflow solutions.
At the same time, the company’s microbiology solutions bring together the best in food quality and safety testing. They include marketleading molecular instrumentation, sample preparation capability, PCR technology, and lab equipment for foodborne pathogen and quality indicator detection, as well as traditional culture media and biochemical or immunological tests.
With Thermo Scientific’s industry insight, scientific expertise, and access to best-of-breed technologies, food companies can quickly develop new products and protocols, remaining adaptive, responsive, and competitive.
Testing for Salmonella in Foods and Associated Samples One of the most remarkable feats of Thermo Scientific today is curbing the rise of Salmonella, which has caused quite a stir in the poultry industry. The pathogen covertly infects poultry meat and eggs, and sometimes even the birds, without any symptoms. As a result, the eradication of Salmonella from poultry production has been incredibly difficult; until now.
With Thermo Scientific SureTect, RapidFinder, and Salmonella Precis methods, detecting the foodborne Salmonella enterica is becoming a lot simpler. Validated according to ISO 16140-part 2:2016 standard, these rapid real-time PCR methods are proven to enrich, detect, and confirm Salmonella species in food, feed products, and environmental samples.
Fighting Food Frauds
Equally impressive is Thermo Scientific’s role in fighting food fraud through next-generation sequencing (NGS). The NGS method detects multispecies DNA in food and ingredient samples and has the potential to tackle food fraud—a global problem that puts lives at risk, decimates reputations, and costs the industry an estimated $10 to $40 billion in losses each year. Thermo Scientific is currently working with governmental, industry, and contract testing laboratories to create a standard data set to improve this NGS method with better testing capabilities.
The technology, called the Thermo Scientific NGS Food Authenticity Workflow, uses Ion Torrent NGS technology, analysis kits, and extensive databases to enable an untargeted, multi-species screening approach. With no standardized approach to follow, laboratories usually use complex, time-consuming, unvalidated frameworks that involve various locally developed analytical tools, reference libraries, and result interpretation methods. Hence, the outcomes are often rife with errors. Thermo Scientific’s NGS method is a perfect alternative to such an unstandardized workflow. While its rollout is still subject to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) guidelines, according to Thermo Scientific, its method will be a game-changer in food authenticity testing.
Such tremendous strides in the food safety space are constantly propelling Thermo Scientific to remain at the peak of its success. Backed by years of unrivaled expertise, the company plans to continue its food safety stride by further expanding its footprint in the food processing industry. At the same time, in the upcoming months, the biotech giant also wishes to augment its capabilities in the discovery, production, and marketing of more potent solutions and continue breaking new barriers in the food safety space through its innovative and committed mindset.