Rapid test methods: a versatile tool to assist food-safety management

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Dimitra Lebesi
Charikleia Dimakou
Anton J. Alldrick
Vassiliki Oreopoulou


food safety, HACCP, analysis, quality assurance


Introduction Rapid test methods are increasingly being promoted as tools for food companies to validate and/or verify the efficacy of their food-safety management systems. However, little is known about their take-up by the industry nor on what industry’s current and future needs are. Objectives In order to gain further information a questionnaire-based survey was conducted in 17 countries (11 European Union members and 6 non-European Union members). The survey was designed to gain insight into routine analytical regimes operated by food industries and the role played in them by the use of rapid test methods. Methods Over 2600 questionnaires were circulated to companies covering the whole food chain and 661 replies (about 25%) were received. Results At a strategic level, the survey revealed that raw materials and final products are the most routinely analyzed samples, and that the major analytes tested for concerned (in descending order) microbiological contaminants, heavy metals, pesticides, foreign bodies, mycotoxins and allergens. With regard to the use of rapid test methods, 66% of the respondents use them, while, almost all respondents stated their interest for extending the range of tests performed. In terms of future needs, rapid tests for microbiological analysis was emphasized by most respondents, while food allergens and mycotoxins-related test kits were also of high importance. Conclusions The results obtained indicate that the food industries currently use or are well prepared for the implementation of new rapid methods of analysis.

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