Automation in Food and Beverage Testing Laboratories for Safety: LIMS is the Key to do More With Less


The increasing complexity of the global food supply chain has made food safety measures — like testing and traceability initiatives — significantly more challenging for food manufacturers and producers. At the same time, high-profile foodborne disease outbreaks — like the salmonella outbreaks of the past two decades — have pushed food safety into the spotlight.

Food manufacturers also must contend with a complex web of regulations, like European Food Law and FDA standards, that requires serious record-keeping and testing to comply with.

Food and Beverage testing labs that want to ensure the most water-tight Quality Assurance (QA) system need to rely on advanced tech solutions — like LIMS — to ensure efficient quality control.

LIMS in the Food Industry

In Food & Beverage testing labs and plants, LIMS are typically most useful in automating steps of the testing process, managing testing data, following regulatory guidelines, and reducing the risk of administrative error.

For example, LIMS are often used to track batch relationships between raw ingredients, processed materials, and the final packaged goods. Tracking batch relationships is an important step in improving traceability, a critical factor in improving product quality and more effectively managing product recalls. With high-quality analytical data, laboratory managers can both reduce the risk of distributing contaminated products to the public and lower the potential cost of any eventual recall.

Food safety analysis naturally produces large amounts of varied data — including sample data, final test data, and relevant material and reagent information for each test — that needs to be stored, organized, and analyzed by lab personnel.

Many LIMS also eliminate the need for manual record-keeping and streamline the record-keeping process, which can help labs avoid errors associated with conventional record management and reporting, such as transcription errors and data overlaps. A LIMS can also generate test reports from lab data, ensuring uniformity of quality reports.

Conventional analytics methods often require manual coordination between plant systems. In the case that some aspect of the food manufacturing process needs to be adjusted due to a test result, lab workers and plant staff will need to communicate and coordinate to make procedural changes as necessary. When integrated properly, a LIMS can immediately make test data available to other plant information systems. This can allow these systems to adjust automatically to prevent contamination and produce products that follow relevant food safety best practices and standards.

LIMS in the food industry can also be used to accelerate communication between staff and plant management. Once a test is completed, results can be automatically delivered to relevant staff via email or phone alert. This can help ensure the quickest possible response to test results.

Using LIMS for Food Safety

The growing complexity of the food supply chain, combined with regulations like those imposed by the FDA and EU, has created new challenges for food and beverage manufacturers.

Food and Beverage LIMS can help manufacturers overcome these challenges. A LIMS can streamline food safety practices by automating certain steps of the process — like record-keeping and communication — reducing the risk of error and allowing for the quickest possible response to test results.