According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, major outbreaks of foodborne illness due to Salmonella, Campylobacter, Esherichia coli and Listeria affect an estimated 48 million people in the U.S. each year. Introduction of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has shifted focus towards ongoing prevention through establishment of documented food safety plans, which include Hazard Analysis, preventive controls and recall plans.

Due to increased consumer awareness of foodborne illness, through heightened media coverage and the influence of social media, food manufacturers understand that a single outbreak can impact not only millions of consumers’ lives but also their company’s future viability as well. For this reason, food safety testing labs are experiencing heightened demands from manufacturers and regulators who are seeking faster test times and higher accuracy than ever before. This, in turn, has led to food manufacturers seeking new and improved methods for processing, packaging and testing in an attempt to increase sustainability of their product and their brand.

In the U.S., as food safety regulations continue to evolve, as seen with the implementation of FSMA, laboratory automation can be a key component for testing labs who have to comply with industry regulations (including reporting and traceability).

Automation Doesn’t Have to Be Cumbersome
Advancements in testing automation have allowed for the development of smaller, more flexible solutions that fit into existing laboratory configurations and workflows, and are available at a significantly lower price than traditional systems. Thanks to these advancements, automation is within the reach of both low- and high-volume laboratories that wish to benefit from increased workflow with reduced handling and steps. BioControl System’s Assurance GDS® system utilizes the targeted isolation capabilities of immunomagnetic separation (IMS) together with the specificity of DNA-based detection to provide fast and accurate results for even the most challenging food samples.

With Assurance GDS, your test methods can be automated or performed manually as needed, giving your lab the ultimate in flexibility. Whether using a “batch and test” or “continuous processing” workflow, Assurance GDS PickPen® PIPETMAX® (PPMX) can dispense reagents for up to 288 samples and perform IMS for up to 96 samples at one time. “The ability for our lab technicians to walk away and complete other tasks while the GDS PPMX is running is a valuable time saver for our lab,” says one lab manager.

Even Data Can Be Automated
BioControl’s Assurance GDS Rotor-Gene® software includes the ability to automatically store all associated test data into a laboratory information management system (LIMS). By electronically storing all data associated with test records, LIMS may facilitate document control, trend analysis and traceability, which is a key component of FSMA.

The data are available in a user-friendly format that can be customized to meet your lab’s needs. With LIMS integration, all information from a sample is electronically stored, from start to finish. You’ll know the sample identity, where the sample came from, the sample prep process, the PCR process, results and even every person who was involved with that sample along the way. Every detail is automatically stored, no matter how big or small, and you maintain proper documentation, making you much more prepared, whether it be for an audit or an unexpected event.

“LIMS changed the way our lab tracked samples and improved workflow to help our managers oversee operations more effectively,” says one lab manager of a large commercial lab after using LIMS with both the Assurance GDS PPMX and Rotor-Gene. Both instruments are LIMS compatible and feature importing and exporting capabilities.

With over 30 years of experience in the global food industry, BioControl Systems specializes in developing rapid pathogen diagnostics that are fast, accurate and flexible. Assurance GDS is a flexible automated solution that reduces the labor and helps increase accuracy of the method. This flexibility makes Assurance GDS an ideal solution for labs of any size who are looking to accomplish more—with less.

To learn more about the latest in laboratory and data automation, contact BioControl Systems, Phone: 800.245.0113, E-mail:, Web: