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Linking the Global Food Chain and $2.9 Billion in Food Microbiology Testing
Date:8/29/2013

Many of the Asian surveys were conducted in face-to-face interviews in the native language, in order to provide insights into food testing practices that to date have been difficult to gather.

GEOGRAPHIC DIFFERENCES

In general, microbiology test volumes are increasing globally—up 128% over the past 15 years. Pathogen testing is growing at an even faster rate, and represents an increasing percentage of total food micro testing. Fifteen years ago, pathogen testing represented 13.7% of microbiology testing, while in 2013, it will reach 23.2%.

The general increase in food microbiology testing as well as the more dramatic increase in pathogen-specific testing are not consistent across all the geographies analyzed: North America (NA), Europe (EU), Asia, or other countries of the world (ROW). For example, in North America pathogen testing has grown at greater than 10% for the past few years, while in Europe it has grown at half that rate.

In general, SCI research shows that these four geographic regions have different trends affecting growth in microbiology testing. These trends, combined with public perceptions within each region about food safety, influence testing in the region.

VARIATIONS BY FOOD TYPE

Microbiology testing by food segment (protein, dairy, fruit/vegetable, processed food) also varies around the globe. The protein segment, which includes beef, pork, chicken, fish and eggs, represents 27% of overall microbiology testing in the food industry, but more than 40% of total pathogen testing. The dairy segment, which includes fluid milk, cheese, and other dairy-based products, represents 23% of total testing but just 10% of pathogen testing.

As any examination of foodborne illness outbreaks demonstrates, problems can—and do—occur in all food segments. Over the past 20 years, the protein segment has received the majority of publicity around foodborne illness, and the regulations and pathogen testing level
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