Food analysis firms team up to boost transparency in food supply

Two American companies have announced a partnership aimed at using new techniques and analytical chemistry expertise to uncover nutritional value in food.

PerkinElmer, a company that produces analytical tools for food testing, has entered into a collaboration with TeakOrigin to create new systems to detect food authenticity and quality.

Based on the findings of their research, PerkinElmer and TeakOrigin aim develop a first-of-its-kind technology that uses a single platform to analyse food for key indicators that determine authenticity, quality and freshness.

The research will leverage molecular spectroscopy, UV VIS, mid/near infrared and Raman spectroscopy techniques – which are fast, small, and relatively low cost and non-destructive to the food being tested.

“Food can lose a significant amount of nutritional value in the supply chain and preparation process, and the growing lack of transparency within the modern food system is increasingly impacting the consumer both nutritionally and financially,” said Brent Overcash, CEO of TeakOrigin.

“Together with PerkinElmer, we want to deliver a quick, simple and secure way to ensure that the food we eat is what’s indicated on the label, confirm how fresh and nutritious it is, and help eliminate food fraud and misrepresentation.”

As well as the molecular spectroscopy, TeakOrigin is using more traditional analytical techniques (such as HPLC, GC/MS, TGA and wet chemistry) to determine the chemical properties of foods so that the relationships to the spectra can be validated.

Contrary to the approach that photonics companies take, TeakOrigin is chemically characterising the samples as the spectra are collected.

The first research initiatives are taking place at PerkinElmer’s scientific laboratory at its headquarters in Waltham, Massachusetts.

For this project, lab analytical results will be calibrated against their molecular spectroscopy results to facilitate fast, portable screening of foods for quality and safety threats. The initial pilot testing will be for olive oil, honey and apples, with the intent to extend this type of analysis to many other foods.

“PerkinElmer brings extensive experience developing instrumentation, software and services to help food manufacturers better detect ingredients and adulterants, while navigating regulations,” said Jim Corbett, Executive Vice President and President, Discovery & Analytical Solutions, PerkinElmer.

“Working with TeakOrigin, we look forward to addressing key underlying issues inthe food system, leading to better and healthier food decisions for grocery retailers and consumers.”

In the future, PerkinElmer and TeakOrigin will aim to develop and validate new hand-held spectroscopic devices and chemometric models.

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