Our CEO, Tim Curran: It Takes an Industry to Make Food Safer
Two years of clever and diligent R&D work by the Sample6 team has paid off with our first significant industry milestone, AOAC certification. When we set out to revolutionize pathogen detection for food safety, we knew it would require a lot of hard work but we quickly realized that revolutionizing food safety would require buy in and support from the entire food safety industry. Going through the AOAC certification process brought this to light, as it required collaboration and partnership with the AOAC organization, third party labs, and our pilot partners.
As our advisor, David Acheson explains,“AOAC is the gold standard in validation for food
safety diagnostics and indicates a high standard of product that users can have confidence in.” In order to achieve and maintain this status, the AOAC sets a very high bar for vetting new diagnostics. The rigorous process for validation includes stressed cell sensitivity, inclusivity and exclusivity, and robustness. However, behind the process is a team of people who have all been supportive and also very interested for new, disruptive change in pathogen detection and food safety. We learned a tremendous amount through the testing and actually modified some of our model systems to include the AOAC approaches. We will leverage these techniques to speed up our development of future diagnostics. For Sample6, DETECT/L is just the beginning.
The AOAC process required a partnership with a third party lab and we had the opportunity to work with Q Laboratories. The team we worked with was eager to learn a new process and curious about technology. They also recognized the value of a rapid enrichment-free test in a laboratory setting based on low touch time and reduced volume. Incubation, storage and disposal of enriched samples is a tremendous cost to a lab. The lab industry is as ready for a paradigm shift as food processors are.
Lastly, we are grateful to our pilot customers, who have been working with us over the past year and a half to perfect the usability and efficacy of our diagnostic. They are laser focused on shipping safe product and therefore happy to be contributing to food safety improvement. They have been unfiltered in their feedback, which has been critical in helping us design an easy to use test while simultaneously providing us access to thousands of environmental samples, and their quality and sanitation teams. We have also had the opportunity to share best practices with our partners and many have begun modifying their processes based on our collaboration. They are shifting to more frequent sampling in smaller quantities, adding rigor to their schedule processes and building out their remediation processes. Every time I’m in the field, I hear from customers that food safety is not a competitive advantage because the industry will be weighted down by the lowest standard. Collaboration with food processors has enabled us to reach this milestone. Together, we will raise the standards across the board.
But this is just the beginning. Ten years from now, when we celebrate our 10th AOAC certification, our 1000th customer, we will all look back at the time when we had to wait days for environmental samples in the same way that we remember phone booths.