Leatherhead brings chemistry facilities into one lab

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

Leatherhead opens Chemistry Research Laboratory
Leatherhead opens Chemistry Research Laboratory

Related tags Polymerase chain reaction

Leatherhead Food Research has brought all its chemistry facilities into one laboratory which it officially opened last week.

Leatherhead’s Food Innovation Day saw the opening of the Chemistry Research Laboratory which has been in use since earlier this year.

It was designed for flow-through of samples from receipt and preparation through to extraction and analysis.

This will allow the analytical services at Leatherhead to grow in capacity and scope, and expand research capabilities, said Leatherhead.

As ingredients enter the marketplace and consumer demand for more natural and functional product profiles increases, testing services that support and validate these changes need to evolve with them.

Leatherhead also opened the “DirtyLab” earlier this year​ which allows microbiological testing of foods to be done under factory-like production conditions.

Dedicated space 

Dr Rachel Burch, chemistry research manager, said the lab provided a dedicated space for food chemistry.

“It supports other parts of the business in product development, shelf life testing, changes in colour and in storage, nutritional and vitamin testing – it depends on the regulations and if there are contaminant scare enquiries which come in but you can’t predict that,” ​she FoodQualityNews.com.

“There is not a particular trend at the moment, we have many different departments which specialise in food so if there is a problem of someone comes to us with product development work we can do it.”

She added that the lab had a mix of customers, mostly from the UK but some in the US and had links with Australia.

The facility has retained its UKAS-accreditation for food testing, including Group 1 and Group 2 nutrition, and ELISA-based assays for allergens and meat speciation.

Lab capabilities

Dr Burch said that while they use ELISA for allergens, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is used for meat speciation and they also have LC-MS/MS capabilities.  

The increased space has allowed Leatherhead to bring all of our chemistry facilities into one laboratory, with a dedicated section for allergens’ testing.

“With allergens we are dealing with low levels, take cake mix for example we have flour, eggs, milk so we don’t want cross contamination in any levels as the particles can be airborne so we separate in terms of space and physical barriers,” ​she added.

Leatherhead said its research activity has seen significant growth in recent years and the laboratory is designed to cope with that.

Dr Derek Craston, chief scientific officer, LGC, opened the Chemistry Research Laboratory. “LGC and Leatherhead have a long association and we share a common vision to help create a vibrant industry in the UK, making sure that the products produced are of high quality.”

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