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FACTS is the ‘go-to’ company for providing customised and practical solutions for any query, big or small, to support our clients’ business plans for product quality, brand preservation and overall growth.

FACTS offers members of the food and allied industries great depth and breadth of knowledge within one company. We are an authentic, multidisciplinary and connected team of experts, with medical, food science, dietetic, genetic and commercial knowledge. Our synergy of skills allows us to offer unparalleled expertise in the analytical testing, nutritional, regulatory, advisory and educational domains and provides vital advantages to our clients.

We continually invest in our people, technology and partnerships to ensure that we sustain our solid foundation in scientific excellence. Our committed team of researchers has a strong presence in local and international networks and collaborative projects and represent a trusted scientific workforce, referenced by the academia, industry and government.

Facts News

Finding a hair in your food can be rather off-putting. Whether hair enters a product accidentally or as a result of deliberate sabotage, ...

‘Identifying’ hair – Testing – What is possible when it comes to testing?

17 February 2021
Finding a hair in your food can be rather off-putting. Whether hair enters a product accidentally or as a result of deliberate sabotage, its presence can put a brand’s reputation at huge risk. Hair is classified as a physical contaminant in terms of HACCP, and its presence in a product may indicate a lack in GMP and/or TACCP controls. Identifying the origin of foreign hair strands in a product is an important step in managing customer complaints, completing root-cause analyses, and preventing similar incidents from reoccurring. Despite what some forensic-science crime dramas imply, it is not always possible to identify the exact person to whom a hair belongs. DNA-based identification methods require the root of the hair follicle to be attached. Even when the follicle root is intact, however, it is not always possible to extract a sufficient amount of DNA from it to produce a reliable result. So what is feasible, when it comes to identifying ‘foreign’ hair?

Figure 1. Morphology of a hair follicle

Origin

One of the first analytical avenues to investigate is the origin of the foreign hair. Human hair, animal hair and synthetic fibres all have unique elemental profiles that can be used for identification. Furthermore, human hair and animal hair have several different morphological features that can be used to confirm the hair’s origin. For example, the medulla diameter of human hair is less than one third of the follicle diameter, while animal hair has a medulla diameter that is greater than half of the follicle diameter.

Ethnicity

Should a foreign hair be identified as a human hair, additional features of the hair can be assessed to determine the ethnicity of the individual from whom it originated. There are some distinct morphological differences between European, Asian and African human hair, such as the longitudinal and cross-sectional shape.

Gender and age

Without positive controls, it is difficult to determine whether a foreign hair belongs to a male or female person, or the age of the person. If you are interested in investigating the origin of a foreign hair sample, or would like to know more on this topic, please
contact us.
The unauthorised presence of ethylene oxide in products containing sesame seeds was first reported in September 2020. Since then, nearly ...

Recalls of contaminated sesame seeds continue in Europe

17 February 2021
The unauthorised presence of ethylene oxide in products containing sesame seeds was
first reported in September 2020. Since then, nearly 500 cases of unauthorised use of ethylene oxide have been reported, according to a European food alert system. The European Commission has implemented more stringent checks on sesame seeds from India since October 2020, as recalls due to pesticide residue contamination continue. Over half of the EU’s annual imports of 70 000 tons of sesame comes from India. The additional measures require all products containing sesame seeds to be tested prior to exporting to the EU. Some of the products commonly affected include cereal, biscuits, crackers, and sesame oil. Because ethylene oxide has been known to be used in the control of microbes in herbs and spices, some countries are calling for more stringent measures for these types of products as well. Read the full article here. If you require assistance with testing for the presence of ethylene oxide, please contact us.
Our analytical services and specialists underpin our technical support team. Connecting our technical services with the strength of our a...

Analytical advancements

12 February 2021
Our analytical services and specialists underpin our technical support team. Connecting our technical services with the strength of our analytical department provides you, our customers, with an extension of your team that will take a scientific and holistic approach to your challenges. This is particularly useful when definitive results and input are needed, in instances when your company is required to make important food safety decisions. Our
testing catalogue is the basis of our current analytical services, and our custom analysis support gives our customers the opportunity to access non-routine methods of detection. This combination makes our laboratory unique in South Africa. However, this was not enough for our analytical team. Tasked with the challenge of identifying further opportunities for innovation alongside our available catalogued tests, they embarked on a journey to identify the challenges that we understand our customers experience with the analysis methods currently available. Their mission: to convert our customers’ challenges for service benefits.

Our technical team has scored the following value-add wins for our customers:

Improved turnaround time:

Until now, receipt of results has been slowed by the analysis methods used. Over the years our team has reduced this lag by improving process flows; however, a limit had been reached. We are pleased to announce that with the new advances we have made in terms of our technology, we have been able to reduce our lead time from 5-6 working days to 4-5 working days from the day the sample is received.

Eradication of cross-reactivity:

Cross-reactivity is the most frequent cause of false-positive results in allergen detection; a product sample may appear positive, despite the allergen not being present in the sample. This is a global challenge relating to antibody production for commercial testing kits that all laboratories face – even ours, despite our analytical team taking all precautions and always selecting the most suitable kits for the different allergens listed in our testing catalogue. Although not a concern for some of our clients, when cross-reactivity does occur it can be a real challenge. Our technology developments have put an end to this problem.

Detection of allergens in processed food:

Some assay targets depend on the precise three-dimensional structure of an allergen remaining intact for detection. This means that food processing (which often involves hydrolysis and denaturation) could result in these proteins becoming undetectable. The biological significance of this is not always clear, as with some allergens, the conformation of the allergen is key to its allergenicity; with others, it is not. Our analytical team advises our clients on how to manage this challenge, and presents solutions that will achieve the best results. We are now very excited to offer an innovation that will accurately measure proteins in any form in which they might be a risk.

Cost structure advantages:

In addition to the benefits above, we are now able to offer cost structures regardless of the specific tests selected.  Contact FACTS today to identify how this analysis can support your food safety team.

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