Using MALDI-TOF (Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization-Time of Flight) Mass Spectrometry, the MALDI Biotyper, can identify bacteria, yeast and mould as well as groups of organisms such as multi-cellular fungi, which are usually difficult to analyse due to cultural conditions.
It can be used to identify unknown organisms not originally targeted by cultural tests and to identify, and provide direction for investigations of issues relating to product spoilage and shelf life.
Eurofins invests in MALDI-TOF
Keith Watkins, microbiology specialist at Eurofins, said it chose MALDI-TOF instead of other methods due to cost per sample to the client and ability to develop a mass spectral database.
He told FoodQualityNews some organisms are difficult to analyse due to cultural conditions.
“In general different target organisms may be more difficult to identify due to their cell wall and the release of the molecules that are being used to identify the organism.
“Also many of the organisms belong to very close families and this method may not be able to differentiate sufficiently between those families to provide a full individual species identification.
“As time goes by the databases that are used will grow and this will help increase the number of species that can be fully identified.”
The Maldi Biotyper was installed between August and October this year and the method is in use in other Eurofins facilities in Denmark, Nantes and Colmar.
MALDI will speed up the notification of the outcome of presumptive results so reduce the level of wasted time and effort due to false positives.
Eurofins is aiming to have accreditation to ISO 17025 early in 2016.
When asked if the techniques used before will be continued, Watkins said it depends on the organism involved but cultural/biochemical and DNA techniques will still play a part in identification and confirmation.
“The identification of organism is not food fraud but more food safety issue, the technique can be used it identify organism to help understand where and how they got into the product and help to target their control or removal from the product,” he said.
“All contract testing laboratories in the UK have to be accredited to ISO 17025; it is a way of assuring the quality of the testing undertaken and a way of ensuring that all laboratories aim for the same comparable standard of the quality of testing and thus reliability of results.”
On the acquisition trail?
In other news, Eurofins said for 2016 it has an objective to add €200m revenues per year through acquisitions.
The firm said this could be exceeded as several large bolt-on assets within its areas of focus are, or are likely to become available in the next few quarters
The group said it will complete the majority of its laboratory infrastructure investments by the end of 2016.
Combined with the 35 start-up laboratories coming on stream by the end of 2016 and exclusive tests from its R&D, it bodes well for continued strong organic growth beyond 2016, said the firm.
Eurofins said outlook for 2016 appears positive across businesses and geographies so that the annual organic growth objective of 5% set for the next five years in October could prove to be conservative, at least next year.