Food Safety and Laboratory Informatics Management Systems

MarketsandMarkets research predicts that the global food safety testing market will rise from USD $17 billion in 2018 to upwards of $24 billion by 2023 – a CAGR of 7.7%.

There are several factors driving this focus on food safety testing, including:

  • Increasing consumer focus on food safety
  • Greater demand for convenience and packaged food products
  • A growing rate of incidents of contamination in food processing facilities

With the food safety testing marking continuing to expand, there are ever more challenges to face. Laboratory Informatics Management Systems are therefore becoming more and more vital.

The food and beverage industry faces difficulties in lab testing across a number of disciplines – chemistry, microbiology, label testing, shelf-life testing, site auditing and more. Most food manufacturers outsource at least some– and often the entirety – of these tasks to third-party labs.

Outsourced lab testing is a frequently chosen option within the food processing industry for a number of reasons. These include the hefty costs of lab infrastructure and a labor force, as well as the issues of staff shortages, unexpected variations in testing volumes, the need for specific (and continually changing) expertise and regulatory proficiency, and the requirement to meet industry accreditations (e.g., FDA, USDA, ANSI, ISO 17025, AOAC).

To meet these challenges, food and beverage producers may often carry out specific, high-frequency tests in-house, while outsourcing most others to contract labs. This offloading of sample testing even occurs in larger companies with in-house labs.

Food Safety Net Services (FSNS) is a prominent national network of accredited testing labs. They deliver a broad variety of microbiological and chemistry testing services to the food processing and nutraceutical industries.

Legacy LIMS Challenges

Heavily-modified legacy LIMS struggle to meet the demands, technologies and workflows of modern labs. They often have issues with upgrading, and offer no thin client or browser-based solutions – the most appropriate options for multi-lab LIMS usage. FSNS was no exception to this pattern.

For FSNS, the platform was also failing to keep up with features. The system was unable to offer more modern LIMS capabilities, and wasn’t able to be further retrofitted to allow for the organization’s evolution.

These difficulties are more common than many may realize. Organizations get larger, goals are modified and LIMS capabilities develop further. Interfaces are improved, regulatory guidance and workflows are restructured and cross-platform data integrations become ever more manageable.

As LIMS platforms have increased their capabilities, the need for intuitive, simple-to-operate interfaces for growing user bases has increased. Many customer-supporting organizations, including FSNS, have a need for solutions, which are compatible with recurrent customer audits.

A further key benchmark for many testing labs is the ability to link advanced lab instruments to a LIMS for automatic data capture, so as to remove the need for manpower and reduce the risk of human errors that can occur with manual data entry.

The Growing Role of LIMS Interfacing

As is the case with many contract testing lab organizations, FSNS had a need for a contemporary, dynamic, adaptable and entirely browser-based LIMS, which would be able to support common food testing sample types.

As part of their search for a novel solution, they acknowledged certain essential criteria:

  1. Rock-solid infrastructure
    A vital requirement of the LIMS was to provide increased system performance and offer scalability to align with the developing demands of the business. It was also necessary that the system offer both simple lab equipment connectivity (e.g. digital scales) as well as multifaceted bi-directional interfaces with computer-driven instrumentation.
  2. Strong internal UX and functionality
    Another essential requirement was a shared browser-based interface for all users across the organization. The system also needed to be compatible with other systems, including Great Plains Accounting Software, customer systems & SharePoint.
  3. World Class CX
    A final non-negotiable factor was the need for the customer experience-driven portal to deliver world-class service and offer their customers real-time access to data.

FSNS System Implementation

For FSNS, LabVantage was the best option for LIMS enterprise deployment. LabVantage not only met their essential criteria, but offered the greatest value in terms of:

  • System flexibility
  • LIMS responsiveness
  • Up-front costs
  • Continuing system upkeep costs
  • Overall ability to manage complicated and developing business requirements

LabVantage’s FSNS installation offered a browser-based user interface, as well as adaptable sample types to eradicate test assignment errors and ensure a faster rate of operation.

A Superior, Quicker, Simpler & More Adaptable LIMS

What can a LabVantage LIMS implementation deliver for a national lab network? FSNS enjoyed exceptional results with their new LIMS:

  • Greater efficiency and productivity
    The LIMS standardized custom sample types over several locations, making login data processing 15% quicker. It also offered the ability to enter numerous items of sample data on the same screens, reducing data entry time by almost 15%.
  • Greater user satisfaction
    Page refresh is approximately 50% faster than with the legacy system.
  • Improved system performance
    The system offers access to more than 50 simultaneous FSNS users without any drop in performance levels.
  • Greater traceability & compliance
    The LIMS delivered the required audit trails for full traceability and audit purposes.

If your food safety lab experiences difficulties with productivity, connectivity or workflow-related challenges, find out more about FSNS’s experience with LabVantage in this case study.

It may also be valuable to explore LabVantage Food & Beverage. Food & Beverage is a tailor-made solution, built to offer inclusive, end-to-end management of ingredients, intermediate and finished product quality to make certain of compliance with HACCP, FDA and GxP requirements.

LabVantage Food & Beverage implements the quality and regulatory requirements of food and beverage organizations by delivering data traceability, accessibility, reporting, and other vital capabilities.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by LabVantage Solutions, Inc.

For more information on this source, please visit LabVantage Solutions, Inc.

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