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Exclusive: Rajat Mehta, Vice President Applied Technologies, Thermo Fisher Scientific

Posted: 6 March 2017 | Roy Manuell | Digital Editor | No comments yet

New Food speaks exclusively with Rajat Mehta,Vice President and General Manager, Applied Technologies at Thermo Fisher Scientific…

Rajat-Metha_Thermo-Fisher-Scientific

Live from Pittcon 2017, New Food speaks exclusively with Rajat Mehta,Vice President and General Manager, Applied Technologies at Thermo Fisher Scientific ahead of their press conference.

Rajat-Metha_Thermo-Fisher-ScientificHaving this conversation in light of Pittcon, could you describe what you’re presenting here and detail any new developments and products Thermo Fisher are excited about in 2017?

We offer a highly-integrated portfolio of instruments, consumables, software and services for companies focused on food safety and integrity. From liquid, gas and ion chromatography systems to elemental analysis, mass spectrometry and isotopic analysis, we enable global food manufacturers and related labs to determine purity, quality and authenticity and ensure safety from physical, chemical and biological contamination. During Pittcon 2017, attendees will see that latest offerings for food testing, including the Thermo Scientific iCAP Triple Quad (TQ) ICP-MS system, which features high sensitivity and ultra-low detection limits, and the Thermo Scientific Nicolet iN5 FTIR microscope, which is designed for faster, more reliable results with minimal user training. From routine QA/QC to in-depth analyses of complex food matrices, our food industry portfolio is built to help labs quickly progress from sample to knowledge.

Imagine we’re having this conversation in a year’s time… what do you predict will have changed in the food industry before Pittcon 2018?

The global market for food testing continues to be driven by a focus on food integrity, safety and more stringent food safety regulations. Well-publicized food contamination, fraud and quality incidents have accelerated demand for continuous monitoring for chemical, biological and physical contaminants as well as the consistency and authenticity of ingredients.

Before Pittcon next year, we’re likely see more rapid adoption of technologies that enable lower detection limits of even more contaminants and higher sensitivity…

These issues have also created greater scrutiny by governments and stricter regulations. Before Pittcon next year, we’re likely see more rapid adoption of technologies that enable lower detection limits of even more contaminants and higher sensitivity. We’ll see higher demand for advanced screening technologies, such as liquid and gas chromatography coupled to high-resolution mass spectrometry, and this will enable testing labs to greater reliability and to quickly identify food contaminants or adulteration.

Other technologies, such as isotope-ratio mass spectrometry and new high-resolution mass spectrometry instruments, will be a major enabler for the food industry in tackling the issues associated with food integrity such as origin testing, mislabelling and identifying adulteration and authenticity of food products.

Food safety and food fraud are two areas of key importance at present in the industry. More generally, how do we as an industry (food and beverage) ensure food safety using science and technology?

Analytical instruments and related technologies have enabled the food ecosystem to expand dramatically and across vast geographies. This is important to meet growing and changing food tastes globally. Today, our production-to-consumption food system is complex, and our food is safer, more nutritious, of a higher quality and more readily accessible than ever before. But with progress comes complexity, and safeguarding this expanding food system requires constant vigilance. Consider the diverse range of chemicals used to increase yield and protect crops and livestock from potential disease – final products must ultimately be free of chemical contaminants before they are consumed.

Regulatory guidelines help, but the variability across geographies is costly…

Regulatory guidelines help, but the variability across geographies is costly and can only go so far – industry is increasingly stepping up its self-monitor systems. Technology innovation is helping, however, and advanced mass spectrometry and chromatography workflows now allow for the monitoring and detection of contaminants at lower levels with higher sensitivity. This helps to meet stricter regulatory guidelines and safeguard the label integrity of the foods we consume without affecting access to food and critical production throughput.

How important is the collaboration between science and food?

As demand increases for healthier, safer and more abundant food sources, collaboration between food and science becomes even more critical. Science can help improve yields or address spoilage, but it must also mitigate unintended impacts on the environment and health.

Science can and should be embedded more directly within the ecosystem so that we can more swiftly and decisively respond to safety and integrity issues…

From synthetic flavorings to engineered food additives, the coming decades will see innovation on an unprecedented scale, and the food industry will rely heavily on science to help it forge a responsible path. In fact, science can and should be embedded more directly within the ecosystem so that we can more swiftly and decisively respond to safety and integrity issues. And all this will be done without sacrificing the distance at which food travels the globe nor its abundance.

Why are events such as Pittcon so important for our mutual development as an industry?

Pittcon provides the opportunity to see what’s possible technologically and collaboratively. Having lower detection limits and higher sensitivity is critical, but it takes stakeholders across the food industry – especially those on the front lines in labs – to implement the technology in ways that accelerate and enable productivity and ongoing innovation.

Thermo Fisher develops technology alongside its customers, not in isolation…

Thermo Fisher develops technology alongside its customers, not in isolation, so events such as Pittcon are part of an annual listening tour integral to our mission of enabling our customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer. By understanding how changing regulations, consumer preferences and inherent risks impact the industry, we can advance our technology to enable the development of effective workflows. That’s a big assignment, and it’s one that’s best done by working together.

To read up on a comprehensive guide to food safety in the 21st Century, click here. 

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