In the automation of processes, food microbiology laboratories have somewhat lagged behind other types of laboratories.
In the last few decades, the degree of automation of clinical microbiology laboratories has significantly increased, as they adopt automated or semi-automated systems in many of their workflows, generating added value and improving the level and speed of diagnosis.
Certainly, there are still numerous challenges to be faced in this field and by this type of laboratory, but the change of paradigm began several years ago, and many of the results expected can already be seen.
The challenge facing food microbiology laboratories
Unlike clinical microbiology laboratories, where automated systems have already been implemented, industrial microbiology laboratories have somewhat lagged behind in this process.
In this respect, one of the most notable cases is that of food microbiology laboratories.
Manual processes and repetitive tasks of little added value
As in the case of many industrial microbiology laboratories and as occurred some decades ago in clinical laboratories, food microbiology laboratories continue to perform many of their processes manually and repetitively, devoting a large proportion of their resources to tasks of little added value. From initial processes to prepare media and samples, and inoculation and dilution of these, to culture, incubation, counting and detection of pathogens, workflows are still tedious and not as effective as they could be.
There are two additional factors which are no less important. The first is the lack of qualified personnel, a problem that is growing as time passes. The second is the growing demand of the market itself, which insists on higher levels of control and faster results. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 10 people worldwide fall ill from contaminated food each year.
Laboratory automation: a necessary response in order to move forward
In this context, food microbiology laboratories are now determined to evolve and become cutting-edge laboratories.
As we highlighted in a previous article “The new utility in laboratory automation” during this transformation process, the managers of these laboratories need to consider systems that not only automate operations, but also generate value through automation.
With the aim of offering end consumers the best possible service, the solutions to be implemented in the laboratory require a new focus; they must be more holistic (spanning the entire workflow), modular (modular solutions that can be adapted to every type and size of laboratory), scalable (covering the pre-analytical phase through to the final diagnosis), reliable (focused on improving the reliability and traceability of controls) and optimized.
Through this approach, the advantages of automation and the value it generates will be visible to laboratory managers and users alike.
The food microbiology laboratory of the future is just around the corner, and its arrival represents one of the great challenges in the world of microbiology laboratory automation. Contact us to find out more>