Raising food safety in the chain up to a higher level

The VanDrie Group wants to further improve the quality structure and safeguarding of food safety within the chain. Labora, the lab of the VanDrie Group, plays a key role herein. In order to properly fulfil this function, innovation in terms of microbiological research and tracing pathogens is crucial. For that reason, 2020 was characterised by expansion for Labora. Auke Scheepstra, the Head of Laboratory and Meindert Nieland, quality manager and team leader of microbiology, talk about the new opportunities that the lab offers:


“Food safety has been laid down in the form of strict European legislation and regulations. Nevertheless, we’ve been seeing for a few years that both legislators and customers of food manufacturers are more and more frequently setting extra requirements, in order to limit risks further. Examples include ruling out certain materials, identifying new safety risks at an early stage and better self-regulation. In order to satisfy this growing demand for research and create room for implementing new techniques, Labora was thoroughly renovated in the space of one and a half years. This included the renovation of the existing lab and an expansion in the form of a new building.

The most important development is the expansion of our microbiological lab and the arrival of a Bio Safety Level 3 lab (BSL3). The design of a BSL3-lab is subject to extra strict safety requirements, as a result of which we can conduct research into pathogens that cause serious diseases more safely. Examples include so-called category 3 organisms, such as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC). This expansion means that we also have more space to use innovative research techniques. For a long time now, microbiological research has been conducted by means of PCR technology, with which Salmonella, Listeria and E.coli can be detected. A new innovation in this area is whole genome sequencing (WGS), a molecular technique that makes it possible to demonstrate relationships between pathogens in order to trace possible sources of infection.


With this renovation, the VanDrie Group is investing in knowledge and research techniques with which we can raise food safety in our chain to a higher level. Collaboration and knowledge sharing between the companies is extremely important in that regard. For that reason, we will be working in various chain projects on specific improvements within food safety in the coming year. Half of this is focused on research. Labora acts as a knowledge hub within the VanDrie Group and receives lots of samples from the different companies and a wide range of questions regarding food safety and interpretation of results. By exchanging experiences and linking research results, we create synergy within the chain.”

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