Prepared food covers many product areas from sandwiches and salads, to soups, frozen foods and more. Because the industry is so multifaceted, quality assurance issues can arise frequently.
There is also a variety of processing and packaging considerations for the prepared foods industry since products can be frozen, tinned or stored in other air tight containers. With this range of products and packaging comes a wealth of food safety testing challenges for the industry including grocery stores, vending operators, airports, convenience stores and others.
A strong HACCP plan needs to address each step of the food manufacturing process regardless of an organization’s position in the supply chain. Neogen® works with leading suppliers of private label prepared foods for grocery retailers as well as food service operators. Neogen also works alongside those who sell finished goods as they verify ingredients and can recommend testing and standards to suppliers for allergen control, verification of sanitation/hygiene standards, and help ensure ingredients are of a high quality to protect your brand.
Allergen detection within the prepared food industry is needed at various stages of the production process. With ready-to-eat meals often including a variety of processed ingredients from different sources, cross contamination poses a real threat. For confident labeling practices, prepared food manufacturers are reliant on accurate food allergen tests. Neogen’s comprehensive range of lateral flow, ELISA tests and lab services are used to detect a range of allergens including treenuts, egg, gluten and others.
As part of a HACCP plan, prepared food manufacturers look to verify the cleaning processes within their factory and food preparation areas. Neogen’s sanitation program can highlight weaknesses and allow early action to prevent any incidents. This is of extra importance for ready-to-eat products, such as salads and sandwiches, where further cooking would not eliminate any contamination.
Neogen’s Acumedia® brand offers a broad range of enrichment media for general microbial to pathogen-specific organisms. More than 240 catalog formulations are available along with over 200 custom formulations to meet specific customer requirements. ISO 9001 certification, quality ingredients, consistent products, competitive pricing and on-time delivery make Acumedia enrichment media the right choice.
When we look at prepared foods, micro testing is especially important to minimize microbial risk.
Various different processing methods used in the manufacturing of prepared foods leads to a variety of risk levels throughout the manufacturing facility. Neogen’s comprehensive range of microbiological testing ensures you have right solution for each step of the process.
Prepared food ingredients usually are subjected to mycotoxin testing before making their way down the supply to manufacturers of ready-to-eat meals, soups, etc. Verification testing can be useful to have confidence in ingredients. Neogen can also help its customers better understand what reassurances to look for from suppliers.
Because of its ease of use and clarity of result, many companies prefer to utilize our self-contained protein detection tests for their sanitation monitoring programs. AccuClean® Advanced is intended to be used as a simple method to determine the cleanliness of food contact surfaces and equipment. AccuClean Advanced is housed in a fully self-contained cartridge that once activated, changes color to indicate the relative level of protein detected on a sampled surface.
After 10 seconds, the solution is compared to a color comparison chart for interpretation. If no protein is detected, the solution in the bottom of the cup will remain copper-colored to indicate the surface is clean. A color change to gray indicates low level protein has been detected, while a change to green/blue or blue indicates a higher level of protein detected.
Whether it’s seafood or shellfish for soups, ready meals or salads, end product testing is common place with manufacturers. Manufacturers can protect themselves from expensive recalls by validating the safety of their ingredients. Whether it’s testing for histamine in pelagic fish, or marine biotoxins for shellfish, Neogen can help.
The horse meat scandal of 2013 and further concerns over the quality of ready-to-eat and frozen meals, has lead to increased testing for adulterants and a stronger awareness of the need to protect the reputations of prepared food companies worldwide. When this crisis hit, Neogen was the only supplier of rapid, onsite tests and has been working alongside the market ever since.