Have you ever eaten something, only to end up feeling sick? It’s not a pleasant experience and can even end up being life-threatening (just ask any friend of yours who has ever suffered from a serious case of food poisoning). If not, then surely you recall reading a headline or two concerning food recalls or outbreaks of foodborne illness.
Nevertheless, when you go shopping at the grocery store, you expect the food you purchase to be safe to eat, and generally, it is. But how do manufacturers test your food to ensure that it is going to be safe to eat by the time it makes it to your family’s dinner table? Here are some of the various testing methods used.
Modeling and Simulation – Primarily used for testing drugs, using modeling and simulation in a lab before making the food or drink may become more common as the use of food additives (for things like energy drinks or vitamin-enhanced drinks or food) increases. This can help them identify possible problems before the product is even made. It can even go beyond just food itself and help them to develop safer packaging for protecting the food once ready to be shipped and sold.
Virtual Testing – Virtual testing can be used to determine optimal recipes that are safe and stable and identify possible problems before the food is made.
These methods can help identify problems before the food is created, which can save companies time and money and reduce food waste that would otherwise potentially be deemed unsafe.
Rapid Microbial Methods – Rapid microbial methods are methods that allow for faster results compared to traditional methods. So instead of waiting 3-5 days using a Petri dish, results can be received in as little as 24 hours.
Use of Aseptic Packaging – Because both the food and the packaging remain sterile during the entire packaging process, testing food for contamination will become fast and easy.
Real-Time qPCR – Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) detects specific DNA sequences, which allows for faster and more sensitive testing for pathogens and microorganisms that could contaminate your food.
Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) – This science-based system is used to help in the control of food safety hazards that could spoil your food.
These are just a few of the ways companies test food for safety as it makes its journey from their hands to the shelves of your local grocery store or farmers market and onto your table. With these tests, they can help pinpoint and eliminate potential problems before their products ever reach the shelves, thus providing safer food for you, the consumer.