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From: The eUpdate, 7.26.2011

U.S. Food Pathogen Testing Growing Robustly

Specific pathogen testing growth outpaces routine testing

Microbiologic testing for specific pathogens in the U.S. food processing industry has increased 18% annually for the past three years and is expected to continue to rise, according to a recent report. U.S. food processors performed 213.2 million microbiology tests in 2010, of which approximately 22% were specific pathogen tests, according to the author of the report.

The market value of pathogen testing is growing at 18% annually, and the market value of routine testing at 8%, so in total the market value of microbiological testing done by the U.S. food processing industry is growing at 15%.

Thomas Weschler, president of Strategic Consulting Inc.

“The market value of pathogen testing is growing at 18% annually, and the market value of routine testing at 8%, so in total the market value of microbiological testing done by the U.S. food processing industry is growing at 15%,” said Thomas Weschler, president of Strategic Consulting, Inc. and author of the report.

In 2010, there were 46.2 million specific pathogen tests and 166.9 million routine, broad indicator tests, Weschler said. Tests for specific organisms are more expensive, so the market value of the pathogen tests exceeded the market value of the routine tests, he explained.

From 2008 to 2010, the volume of routine testing in the U.S. food processing industry went up by more than 10%, but during the same three-year period the volume of tests for specific pathogens such as Salmonella, Listeria, Campylobacter, and E. coli O157 increased by more than 30%, according to the report. Titled Food Micro—5, the report is based on primary research with more than 100 U.S. food processing plants in the meat, dairy, fruit and vegetable, and processed foods market segments, as well as interviews with senior quality and food safety officers in the top 30 food companies, Weschler said in an interview with Food Quality.

Weschler sees the growth continuing. “We forecast in the report that the market value of pathogen testing over the next five years is expected to grow at or near the same levels seen in the past three,” he said.

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