Northern Ireland based Bia Analytical Ltd, a spinout from Queen’s University, has expanded its laboratory–based food authenticity testing services with two additional spices, black pepper and turmeric. The company now offers rapid authenticity testing for four herbs and spices – oregano, sage, black pepper and turmeric. In addition, the company will also start providing bespoke model development services for customers with specific authenticity testing needs.
Following successful seed funding at the start of 2020, Bia Analytical kicked off its research and development work in April last year but faced a range of challenges due to the Covid–19 pandemic. However, despite the conditions it has now completed the work on building new chemometric models for black pepper and turmeric. These models are used in conjunction with spectroscopic instruments to provide accurate authenticity testing and detect Economically Motivated Adulteration (EMA) in food ingredients.
As part of the model development, the team carried out extensive work on identifying the most commonly sold varieties of the spices and countries of origin, sourcing many authentic samples and adulterant materials. The tests have been rigorously validated to ensure accurate and reliable results are provided to customers. This work is essential to support businesses who trade in these commodities and food companies who sell produce to consumers.
Dr Terry McGrath, Founder and Chief Technology Officer who is leading the development of the portable testing device said:
“Although the pandemic has brought new challenges in the way we work, the team managed to analyse the hundreds of samples necessary to complete these complex models that are used in our laboratory testing service. The data will also be incorporated in the new portable device that we are planning to launch later this year.” He further commented: “These new tests are the first of many in our pipeline and I am confident we will soon be announcing further new tests to the portfolio.”
Professor Chris Elliott, Founder and President commenting on the official launch of the company said:
“This is a big step and I am delighted to see the company realising my vision of providing rapid and reliable authenticity testing to further strengthen the integrity of the global food supply chain. We will continue to work with key industry partners and our customers to make sure our service offering meets the market needs and supports the on–going fight against food fraud.”
Bia Analytical continues the work on expanding its quick three–day laboratory testing services with additional herbs and spices and is preparing for the launch of their portable solution that provides instant authenticity testing results at the point of sampling.