Food contamination test gets global green light

11 Jul 2011

GETTING ILL from eating contaminated food is a very unpleasant experience and food manufacturers continually test their products to ensure it does not happen.

by Olive Keogh, Irish Times

Producers and processors alike are restricted in the amount of sampling they can do by the length of time it takes for sample results to be returned.

Cork-based bio-technology company Luxcel has just launched a test that is set to revolutionise the testing timeframe. GreenLight returns results in a matter of hours instead of the usual two to three days. This turnaround means many more batches can be tested and products can get to markets faster.

Luxcel was set up in 2002 by UCC academics Prof Dmitri Papkovsky and Dr Richard Fernandes. The company specialises in the development of photoluminescence-based, disposable, remote sensors and related biological tests aimed at three target markets: cell biology research; food and beverage safety; and packaging.

It typically takes bioscience companies a number of years to develop products for commercial release with revenues not kicking in for perhaps six or seven years. Luxcel has been highly focused on producing products from the outset rather than engaging in so-called “blue skies” research, which may or may not have commercial potential.

The company has already paid back a venture capital investment. Last year, US multinational Mocon, a global leader in gas-sensing technologies, package testing and shelf-life instrumentation, became its strategic partner with an investment of €2.5 million.

“We spent our formative years developing the technology to production status, building a portfolio of intellectual property, gaining US certification for our methodologies, and establishing commercial and RD links with major global top-tier end users such as big pharma companies,” chief executive Dr Fernandes says. Some of the biggest food companies in the world are already using the GreenLight test.

Article written in the Irish Times, 27th May 2011 by Olive Keogh 

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