Software automates food contaminant detection

By staff reporter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Mass spectrometry Food safety

An automated software system allows processors to detect food
contaminants in their products, according to its developers.

The new system targets the increased demand for more effective food testing methods. With the increasing emphasis by consumers and regulators on food safety, and the prospect of costly recalls, fines and brand damage, processors are constantly on the lookout for quicker and cheaper ways of preventing contaminated products reaching the market.

Applied Biosystems and MDS Sciex say their new software-based system automates and improves the detection of food contaminants -- such as pesticides, dyes, mold-related toxins, and chemical and antibiotic residues -- making testing more precise, comprehensive and less complex.

The companies claim their Cliquid software, developed jointly, will help lab testers complete the process more quickly and identify a wider range of contaminants.

"The Applied Biosystems and MDS SCIEX joint venture delivers innovations that can be applied to ensure high quality food safety testing,"​ stated Andy Boorn, president of MDS Sciex. "Cliquid software for food testing will put the power of mass spectrometry into the hands of food testers worldwide."

The two companies combined analytical tools with advanced software to create the new system, which is the industry's first commercially-available automated food contaminant testing solution, they claimed.

Cliquid has been designed to bring more functionality to the companies' mass spectrometry systems. It applying the technology to food testing through the software interface, which they say allows them to deliver a custom-tailored solution to food companies, without the need for extra resources or special training in mass spectrometry.

Philippe Guy, of Nestle's research centre in Lausanne, Switzerland, and others helped develop the system.

"The Cliquid software provides research facilities, like ours at Nestle, with the ability to deploy new validated methods, instrument tests and reporting requirements more easily to our regional laboratories,"​ stated Guy. "Indeed, with such a simple interface and workflow, laboratory personnel can adopt LC/MS/MS techniques and rapidly produce high quality standardized results."

The software allows small to large testing facilities of any size to develop systematic testing protocols, a press release stated. Results are captured in automatically-generated reports that can be customized to meet quality control, regulatory and laboratory requirements worldwide.

"With Cliquid software, routine testing no longer has to mean routine complexity,"​ stated Leonard Klevan, the president of Applied Biosystems' applied markets division.

Cliquid is available as a stand-alone software package or as part of a complete testing system that includes either the API 3200 or 3200 Q TRAP mass spectrometers, also manufactured by the two companies. The package also comes with an HPLC (high performance liquid chromatography) system and starter kit. Installation and applications training is included in the price.

The companies expect to release the software in July 2006.

The mass spectrometry method used by labs achieves high levels of sensitivity by detecting the molecules in various substances.

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