You probably don’t think of a LIMS when you’re walking through the produce aisle of your supermarket. But a laboratory information management system is just what is needed to guarantee that the items on your dinner plate are safe from contamination and you won’t be hit with a food related illness.This week the latest food recall happened to be lettuce, but it could as easily have been tomatoes and peppers, bean sprouts, spinach, beef, milk, and even our reliable breakfast and lunch staples, orange juice and peanut butter.
Each of these recalled food groups left a trail of illness across a broad sector of the population. These incidents also led to real business and financial losses – immediate loss of revenue due to the recalled products, and longer term loss of the public trust and the erosion of any brand equity these producers may have had. I’m including a downloadable Poster (The Use of Laboratory Information Management Systems in Food Safety Testing) which illustrates the many levels of testing involved in food production and how a LIMS is used to automate the process of sample testing and reporting. For a comprehensive overview ontheuse of LIMS in the food sector, read what Colin Thurston has to say about the valuable role of laboratory information management systems in dealing with food safety issues and regulatory compliance. This article, The Use of Laboratory Information Management Systems in the Food Sector,published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology, also includes several brief case studies of food producers that rely on LIMS to manage quality control. A full account of the use of LIMS in these companies can be found by reading about Ingredia, Chr. Hansen, and Sino Analytica. Additional interesting case studies can be found at Food Safety Resources.
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A LIMS can provide the essential data required for product traceability – from raw materials through to packaging. And a LIMS can provide the sample and data management necessary not only for regulatory reporting, but for food producers to make decisions about the quality of their products long before a product recall has to occur and the public is put in jeopardy. The food and beverage industry is recognizing that in the current regulatory environment, it is not possible to maintain the required level of consumer safety without modern data management tools like laboratory information management systems. You can find comprehensive information on the use of LIMS in the Food and Beverage Industry at Food Safety Resources, including Case Studies, technical information and published articles.
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