We work with clients in food quality and safety, ranging across the food industry spectrum from the farm to the fork, including farmers, distributors, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers. Our services include evaluating flavor components through the determination of volatile organics, determining ethylene exposure of produce stored under a variety of conditions, analyzing volatile organic compounds to predict shelf life of milk and cereal products, kinetic studies to determine the effectiveness of bags in protecting produce from the effect of ethylene gas, determining the source of food contamination from the storage environment, investigating suspected intentional and unintentional food contamination, evaluating the effectiveness of common household washing and food preparation methods in reducing the levels of pesticide residues in produce, monitoring levels of potentially harmful compounds created in the production of food products, determining the content of vitamins and other nutrients in foods, determining 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI), found in caramel color, in beverages, and in seasonings, determining acrylamide in baked and fried products, as well as in ingredients, and beverages such as coffee and cocoa, determining bisphenol-A in packaging and products, and quick turnaround analysis for pesticide residues in produce.
Food can be a single commodity, such as fruits and vegetables, or it can be very complex as are most processed foods. This presents many challenges to those who perform chemical analyses. Keys to the success of these analyses include sophisticated sample preparation and analytical techniques that aim to reduce interferences caused by natural and artificial colors, sugars, starches and preservatives. Because of the shelf life constraints of most foods, these analyses must be performed in a short period. Turnaround of data to the client typically ranges from a few hours to a few days from the time samples are received in the lab.
We have analyzed more than 40,000 produce samples for approximately 150 pesticide residues. During that time, the food chemistry laboratory has had to stay abreast of changes in regulations and tolerances for specific compounds and commodities. Additionally, many compounds have been banned and newer pesticides put into use. Our team has adapted its analyses in response to these changes and maintains a same-day turnaround for samples received at the lab. This constraint has pushed the lab to improve standard sample preparation and evaluation techniques.