Food Contaminants & Tampering
Whether a problem is identified during quality control at a manufacturing facility or through a consumer complaint, product contamination is an issue facing all manufacturers in the food industry. A food forensic investigation combines the scientific analysis of food along with alleged or actual contaminants with the scrutiny expected in a criminal forensic investigation.
Foreign objects are a common complaint, and may be introduced at any stage, from processing through consumer consumption. In the thousands of cases we have analyzed, some of the more commonly encountered materials include glass, metal, hair, plastic, insects, char, off-spec ingredients, animal parts, drugs, gastric contents, fecal matter, bodily fluids, and plant tissue, though we are never surprised to see something entirely new. Since we analyze many of these materials on behalf of companies that manufacturer them or as evidence in criminal forensic cases, we have a great deal of expertise in all of these materials. Analysis can range from a basic identification or verification through a detailed characterization that may be necessary to identify a source or provide support for litigation.
Other claims may involve sensory complaints of off odor, bad taste, or even discoloration of a food product or beverage. Subtle differences in chemistry can impact the flavor or appearance of a product, including changes in product formulation, ingredient supply, storage conditions, shelf life, or tampering. Read more.
Whether an issue involves a solid, liquid or volatile, source determination or the point of introduction is often a significant and contentious issue. In consumer issues, this often involves determination as to whether a material was introduced before or after a product was opened. In internal investigations, sourcing questions may involve specification of a particular facility or process within a facility, a particular supply chains, or even a particular geographical region.
From assisting a client with sample preservation, to analysis and reporting, through litigation, Microtrace provides an unparalleled range of experience and analytical tools. Our results will stand up to the scrutiny of scientific review and litigation while being provided in a manner that is comprehensible to both consumer affairs professionals and consumers.