News

Coronavirus (COVID-19) & food test kit manufacture

In the difficult and extraordinary times of a Coronavirus pandemic, Bio-Check (UK) would like to reassure its customers, staff, suppliers and other stakeholders that we are continually reviewing – in line with WHO, NHS and UK Government advice – and escalating the measures we take to mitigate the adverse impact of the effects of the virus.

The UK Coronavirus Act 2020, which received Royal Assent on 25th March, provides the UK Government with the emergency powers it needs to tackle the further spread of the virus. In this Act, the key workers list includes all those who are involved with the provision of key goods necessary for the manufacture and supply of food. Bio-Check (UK) is naturally pleased to play its part, ensuring that its food testing kits (e.g. for detection of gluten, food allergens, mycotoxins) continue to be available to help food manufacturers provide all of us – especially the vulnerable – with safe food of the stated quality.

We urge all existing and potential users of our test kits to discuss their changing requirements with us over the course of this outbreak; by doing so, Bio-Check can better ensure the continuity of supplies for all.

If you need more information about our products and the stocks available, please contact us info@biocheck.uk.

By heeding the medical and behavioural (social distancing) advice being provided by the NHS and UK Government, you, your colleagues, families, friends and neighbours will have the best chance of keeping safe and well.

Contract Manufacture of LFDs

Bio-Check (UK) develops and manufactures a range of rapid “on-site/point of care” tests (lateral flow devices) including for the detection of disease antibodies in blood. We have an on-farm test for antibodies to cattle/sheep liver flukes and, more pertinently, several tests to detect very low levels of human (IgE) antibodies indicative of allergic/anaphylactic reactions. Importantly, we manufacture device components that are CE marked for home use as well as doctors; the device uses tiny quantities of whole, finger-prick blood, removes the problem of “prozoning” (high dose hook; overloading) by non-specific antibodies; test results are available in a few minutes. Bio-Check’s management team has many decades of experience in the fields of in vitro diagnostic testing for medical diagnostics and research, pharmaceutical analysis and food testing applications. Our Quality Management System is ISO9001:2015 certified.

Please contact us to discuss your plans info@biocheck.uk

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Briefing note

  • This information is compiled from online sources accessed on 31-March-2020:
  • A new strain of virus is causing Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in humans. The new SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV), called SARS-CoV-2, from the Coronaviridae family of viruses that primarily infect birds and mammals, is a positive-strand RNA virus. It was first discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan, Hubei Province of China, and sequenced and isolated in January 2020. The resulting outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 has caused the coronavirus infectious disease 2019 (COVID-19). SARS-CoV-2 is not the same as an influenza virus, it belongs to a different family of RNA viruses. COVID-19 and influenza, both cause respiratory illnesses spread from person to person through tiny droplets containing the virus, during exhalation and in coughs and sneezes. The symptoms of the diseases have some important differences, including that SARS-CoV-2 spreads and potentially kills more readily. Globally, it has spread to be a pandemic (WHO, 11 March 2020). Unlike many respiratory viruses, it seems to infect both the upper and lower respiratory tract.
  • Food has not been identified as a likely source or route of transmission of the virus according to EFSA. The virus is spread through direct contact with respiratory droplets from an infected person, as described above. Furthermore, it is believed that the virus is sensitive to heat and that the typical temperature and time regimes of cooking to ensure food safety are sufficient to inactive the virus and reduce the risk.
  • Each spherical SARS-CoV-2 virus particle (about 80-90nm in size) consists of the RNA genome enclosed by a viral envelope, a lipid bilayer with structural proteins, including glycoprotein spikes that protrude from the particle surface to form a ‘corona’ or crown of spikes. The coronavirus spikes are known to play a key role in how it infects the host human cell. The viral envelope protects the virus when outside the host cell in the environment.
  • With aerial (direct) and surface (indirect) transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the stability of SARS-CoV-2 has been reported by the New England Journal of Medicine to be more stable on plastic and stainless steel than on cardboard, and viable virus was detected up to 72 hours after application to these surface, although the virus titre was greatly reduced. On cardboard, no viable SARS-CoV-2 was measured after 24 hours. Results indicate that aerosol and indirect transmission by contaminated objects is plausible, since the virus can remain viable and infectious in aerosols for hours and on surfaces up to days (depending on the inoculum shed).
  • Although it is unlikely that SARS-CoV-2 is spread by contaminated food it is advisable to ensure social distancing in a food plant together with robust personal (e.g. frequent handwashing and not touching the face) and food safety hygiene during food preparation to prevent cross-contamination (e.g. by handling and objects) and to heat food to reduce the risk when appropriate. Washing hands is believed to be effective at inactivating the virus, because the soap or liquid detergent disrupts the lipid bilayer of the SARS-CoV-2 causing the virus particle to disintegrate and be easily rinsed away. Although there have been no studies on the effectiveness of formulated disinfectants against SARS-CoV-2 on food contact surfaces (following the important detergent cleaning and rinsing stages), those with an oxidising nature such as hypochlorite, peracetic acid and hydrogen peroxide are likely to be effective at an appropriate working concentration (please discuss with your cleaning chemical supplier).
  • Recently developed analytical methods for detecting SARS-CoV-2 in food and on food surfaces typically target at least two genes in the virus genome (e.g. coding for the envelope or the nucleocapsid). Following sampling and RNA extraction a sensitive Real-Time RT-PCR technique is employed for detection.

Please refer to the latest official guidance and peer reviewed references when formulating policy, practices and procedures on mitigating the risks posed by COVID-19. Some helpful references and hyperlinks are listed below:

References:
Walls et al., 2020 Structure, Function, and Antigenicity of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Glycoprotein Cell online, open access 9 March 2020 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.02.058

Van Doremalen et al., (2020) Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as Compared with SARS-CoV-1 The New England Journal of Medicine, Letter to the Editor 17 March 2020 https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJMc2004973

Useful links:

ALNAP Handbook of COVID-19 Prevention and treatment

BRC Coronavirus Support Hub

CIEH Coronavirus (COVID-19)

EFSA Novel Coronavirus: where to find information

European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention: Q&A on COVID-19

Food Drink Europe, Q&A COVID-19

Food Standards Scotland, Coronavirus (COVID-19) and food

IFST Update: Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center: Global cases map

Public Health England, Guidance for food businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19)

UK Coronavirus Act 2020

UK Government, Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do

WHO Health topics: Coronavirus

Improvements to the FlowThrough™ Swab tests

All the Swab kits in the FlowThrough™ range are currently being modified, to improve both the ease of use and the reliability of these tests. From March 2020, an individual test in each new batch of the Gluten R5, Food Allergen and Raw Meat FlowThrough™ Swab kits will now consist of three-components: the one-piece Swab Device, Colour Reagent and Test Unit. This improvement in format will mean that the test will not ‘overload’ at higher levels should they be encountered in difficult to clean sampling sites. The potential for false negative results is therefore reduced, improving the test reliability and the confidence in decision making when verifying the important task of cleaning.

Quantitative Onsite Aflatoxin Testing

Vicam’s AflaTest has been re-certified by the USDA Federal Grain Inspection Service for the quantitative determination of aflatoxins in corn gluten meal, distillers dried grain with solubles, milled rice (including brewer’s rice and glutinous rice), popcorn, sorghum as well as corn (including field corn, corn meal, corn flour, cracked corn, corn grits or polenta, and corn screenings). The Certificates of Conformance are now available. Bio-Check also offer Vicam’s lateral flow devices with the Vertu reader for a wide range of quantitative mycotoxin testing (total aflatoxins, aflatoxin M1, deoxynivalenol, fumonisins, ochratoxin). For example, the Afla-V strip tests accurately detect and measure total aflatoxins B1, B2, G1, and G2 at levels as low as 2 µg/kg and as high as 100 µg/kg . The tests can be easily performed on-site or in the lab, require no special training and have a long shelf life. Screen, quantify, and confirm mycotoxin levels with total confidence.

Aflatoxin and Ochratoxin testing of cannabis

Medicinal cannabis (cannabis and cannabinoids) and the non-psychotic cannabinoid (cannabidiol, CBD) based foods have in recent years seen a global increase in their popularity together with increasing regulatory scrutiny in terms of their safety. Cannabinoids are derived from a variety of the Cannabis sativa (hemp) plant which is grown industrially. The flowers of the Cannabis plant and products derived from cannabis are susceptible to natural contamination by moulds capable of producing mycotoxins.  The laboratories of Vicam, a Waters business, has chosen to use its AflaOchra immunoaffinity column with LC MS/MS for the analysis of aflatoxins and ochratoxins in cannabis. Recently, it took part in the Emerald Proficiency testing scheme and the results they submitted demonstrated their competence in performing this method within acceptable standards of accuracy and precision. These results underlie the reliability of AflaOchra columns in this growing and emerging field of analysis.

Horizon scanning

Some of the information tweeted @BioCheckUK in March 2020:

  • FSA Board meeting papers published for March 2020
  • Prepare for the split in plant-based demand
  • Norovirus: Fresh research suggests food plays bigger role in illness cases
  • Insects as a source of novel foods
  • Key insights into recall management feature in new webinar
  • Vegan food poses unexpected allergen risk to consumers
  • Are Endangered Species on Your Dinner Menu?
  • Burger recall underlines plant-based allergen risks
  • Allergen Bureau: A decade of food recall data shows allergens still top the list
  • ‘World’s first’ multi-allergen reference kit developed
  • New research shows societal burden of foodborne illness in the UK
  • COVID-19 and food: ‘This virus is sensitive to cooking temperatures’
  • Reducing Aflatoxin Contamination of Food with Fungi
  • Pea protein trend sparks allergy warning
  • Outcome of a public consultation on the draft risk assessment of aflatoxins
  • Coronavirus Stable on Surfaces for Hours to Days
  • UK Coronavirus Emergency Bill looks to ‘keep food supply flowing’
  • Scientists optimise prime editing for rice and wheat
  • ‘EU mobilises all means at our disposal’ to tackle COVID-19
  • Hard surface disinfection even more crucial for dairy industry in light of coronavirus
  • Coronavirus supply chain: lessons from China
  • World Food Programme supply chain chief on COVID-19 challenges
  • FSA publishes guidance for food businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • The Coronavirus Outbreak: a collection of related content

Follow us on Twitter to receive timely information about food adulteration and food contaminant issues that could be important to your business.

Coronavirus

In the difficult and extraordinary times of a Coronavirus pandemic, Bio-Check (UK) would like to reassure its customers, staff, suppliers and other stakeholders that we are continually reviewing – in line with WHO, NHS and UK Government advice – and escalating the measures we take to mitigate the adverse impact developing as a result of the effects of the virus.

The UK Coronavirus Bill, which was announced on 18 March, will provide the UK Government with the emergency powers it needs to tackle the further spread of the virus. In this proposed bill, the key workers list includes all those who are involved with the provision of key goods necessary for the manufacture and supply of food. Bio-Check (UK) is naturally pleased to play its part, to ensure that its food testing kits (e.g. for detection of gluten, food allergens, mycotoxins) continue to be available to help food manufacturers provide all of us – especially the vulnerable – safe food of the stated quality.

We urge all existing and potential users of our test kits to discuss their changing requirements with us over the course of this outbreak; by doing so, Bio-Check can better ensure the continuity of supplies for all.

If you need more information about our products and the stocks available, please contact us info@biocheck.uk.

By heeding the medical and behavioural advice being provided by the NHS and UK Government, you, your colleagues, families, friends and neighbours will have the best chance of keeping safe and well.

Sampling for Food Allergens Successfully

Bio-Check’s Richard Fielder presented at SOFHT’s conference ‘Building an Allergen Safe Culture’ on the 27th February. He provided a test kit manufacturers perspective on the importance of sampling in food allergen analysis and considered some of the current practices and technical challenges to ensure that sampling and analysis is not flawed. Having effective sampling plans for food allergens is critical to checking that foods are safe, that harmful allergens are below acceptable levels and that labelling is correct. If the sample selected is not appropriate for these purposes, analytical results will not be reliable for these important decisions.

If you work for a food manufacturer, do you have time to complete a 4-minute survey on your current practices with food allergen sampling & analysis?

  • All contributors will remain anonymous, though the information collected will be pooled and shared in the analytical community, as well as with these individual contributors. The information is being collected in order to improve best practice in the Food Industry. Further survey contributions are welcomed in order to make a reasonably-sized data set.
  • Click here to participate in the survey

Horizon scanning

Some of the information tweeted @BioCheckUK in February 2020:

  • Peanut allergy drug approved by the US FDA
  • 2DLC in Food Safety and Traceability
  • A Survey of Meat Species in Sausage Products from Sichuan Province
  • Food Industry Intelligence Network aims to expand membership
  • Can coronavirus be transmitted via imported food?
  • Combating cow’s milk protein allergy
  • An interview with the FSA: recalls and risk prevention
  • Preparation of Gluten-Free Foods .. May Not Always Be as Risky
  • A major development in reference materials for allergen quantification
  • Allergic reaction hospital admissions double in Wales in eight years
  • Takeaway prosecuted for selling unsafe foods
  • FSA sets deadline for CBD Novel Food compliance
  • Food safety checks in UK down by half in 10 years
  • FDA Releases Third Installment of IA Rule Draft Guidance
  • Top ten food trends predicted for 2020
  • ‘Medical food’ launched in UK
  • Our mission is to get seitan into the mainstream
  • FSA research suggests new higher estimates for the role of food in UK illness
  • UK wants to be the best place for people living with food hypersensitivities
  • SOFHT: successful sampling for food allergens
  • Plant-based meat sees 35% growth month-on-month
  • Accelerated pace of innovation a ‘strain’ for plant-based sector

Follow us on Twitter to receive timely information about food adulteration and food contaminant issues that could be important to your business.

Horizon scanning

Some of the information tweeted @BioCheckUK in January 2020:

  • Current research gaps and unmet clinical needs in food allergy.
  • Accredited labs have until November 2020 to transition to the new ISO/IEC 17025
  • Jackfruit, tempeh and seitan to lead plant-based boom – 1 of 4 trends for 2020
  • Did you know 1/4 of the world’s pigs died last year because of disease?
  • BRCGS announces plant-based global standard
  • EFSA opens comment period on Ochratoxin A health risks
  • EU germ threats ranked, with STEC now third
  • Natural grown vs tech made meat
  • Food ‘made from air’ could compete with soya
  • Anaphylaxis – A Distinct Immunological Syndrome, but How Much Do We Really Understand?
  • Study: Of 433 beef samples bought in Mexico, 10% tested positive for horsemeat
  • EFSA concern over THC levels in hemp products
  • Human error factor in allergy death
  • 8 consumer trends to watch in the new decade
  • Could 2020 be year of the baobab?
  • Testing times: meat speciation and the media focus
  • Food safety and the importance of horizon scanning
  • New project to boost plant-based knowledge
  • FSA Board: ‘Protecting the consumer interest comes first’
  • FSA Technical Guidance on food allergen labelling and information requirements
  • One in five food samples contain a hidden food allergen
  • Spain: new Horsemeat scam shows weak links in food chain
  • FSA urged to keep CBD products on-shelf: ‘Enforcement could hit millions of consumers’
  • ‘Don’t assume gluten-free products are healthy by default’
  • How Plant-Based Foods Are Changing the Supply Chain

Follow us on Twitter to receive timely information about food adulteration and food contaminant issues that could be important to your business.

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