Food Forensics

A food forensic analysis can quickly provide factual information that can help a manufacturer, restaurant, supplier, consumer, or insurance company arrive at a resolution.  Factual information established by a third-party laboratory such as Microtrace, with years of experience in both food and forensic investigations, provide the independent and scientifically supported results in a manner that is comprehensible to a consumer and will withstand the scrutiny of litigation or a scientific review.  Typical questions we’re asked to address include:

  • Is it foreign matter?
  • What is it?
  • Is it what a consumer claims?
  • When was the item introduced?
  • What is the source of the object?
  • Was the item cooked or processed with the product?
  • Is there blood, saliva or another bodily fluid on the item?

At Microtrace, analyses our conducted in our purpose built, ISO 17025 accredited laboratory, which combines state of the art equipment, unparalleled physical reference collections, and decades of experience.  Whether a problem is identified during quality control at a manufacturing facility or through a consumer complaint, product contamination is an issue facing all manufacturers in the food industry.  A food forensic investigation combines the scientific analysis of food along with alleged or actual contaminants with the scrutiny expected in a criminal forensic investigation.  Common topics include:

Foreign Matter

Foreign objects are a common complaint, and may be introduced at any stage, from processing through consumer consumption.  In the thousands of cases we have analyzed, some of the more commonly encountered materials include glass, metal, hair, plastic, insects, char, off-spec ingredients, animal parts, drugs, tooth, bone, gastric contents, fecal matter, bodily fluids, and plant tissue, though we are never surprised to see something entirely new. Since we analyze many of these materials on behalf of companies that manufacturer them or as evidence in criminal forensic cases, we have a great deal of expertise in all of these materials.  Analysis can range from a basic identification or verification through a detailed characterization that may be necessary to identify a source or provide support for litigation.

Off Odor

Other claims may involve sensory complaints of off odor, bad taste, or even discoloration of a food product or beverage. Subtle differences in chemistry can impact the flavor or appearance of a product, including changes in product formulation, ingredient supply, storage conditions, shelf life, or tampering.  Read more.

Source Determination

Whether an issue involves a solid, liquid or volatile, source determination or the point of introduction is often a significant and contentious issue.  In consumer issues, this often involves determination as to whether a material was introduced before or after a product was opened.  In internal investigations, sourcing questions may involve specification of a particular facility or process within a facility, a particular supply chains, or even a particular geographical region.

Full Service

From assisting a client with sample preservation, to analysis and reporting, through litigation, Microtrace provides an unparalleled range of experience and analytical tools.  Our results will stand up to the scrutiny of scientific review and litigation while being provided in a manner that is comprehensible to both consumer affairs professionals and consumers.

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