According to "Food Micro—8," the global food industry will conduct 966.5 million microbiology tests in 2013 to ensure the safety of food products and detect dangerous pathogens in food. The report provides detailed breakdowns by microorganisms, food segments (meat, dairy, fruit/vegetable and processed foods) and geographic regions, and summarizes key trends and concerns in microbiology testing in food production facilities around the world. The data is based on primary research interviews with more than 450 food producers in 19 countries, including the U.S., China and India.
Microbiology testing practices by food producers around the world vary extensively, according to Tom Weschler, president of Strategic Consulting and lead author of "Food Micro—8." “The world’s food chain is becoming increasingly complex, with food shipments across borders growing at a very fast pace. Food safety officers for food companies using raw materials from around the world need to understand those variations, and establish expectations and practices with their suppliers and within their plants to ensure the safety of their food products,” Weschler said.
In the U.S., imported food now represents 15-20% of all food consumed. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), total imports have increased 7% per year since 1999. In the past ten years, imports of animal-based foods have increased by 5% and plant-based foods have grown more than 8%.
Strategic Consulting’s research shows a continued increase in worldwide microbiology test volumes over the last 15 years. Total test volumes have increased 128%, and testing for specific foodborne pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli grew at an even faster rate. In 1998, pathogen testing represented just 13.7% of total food microbiology tests conducted, while today, pathogen testing represents 23.2% of all such tests.