Partnering opportunity

An improved challenge test for food products safety


An Italian biotech company has developed a new challenge test methodology able to simulate what happens to a product should it become contaminated, also identifying autochthonous contaminants and evaluating the efficacy of the procedures adopted. The test is performed inoculating microorganisms in raw ingredients or production plant to determine health hazards or spoilage risks. Companies in food sector are sought for commercial agreement with technical assistance.

Partner sought

Companies working in food sector and interested to check and monitor food safety are sought for commercial agreement with technical assistance.


This new microbial challenge test has been developed by an Italian company offering high-tech services to the agri-food and pharmaceutical industry regarding all aspects related to microbiology. The Microbial challenge test is widely used to simulate what happens to a product should it become contaminated. It is in general recommended for those food products that are known to be susceptible to pathogenic growth and spoilage. It is a must if there is a record of problems in actually meeting the shelf life expectations (see Annex II – Reg CE/2073/2005) The processing methods, formulations, and storage conditions also play a role in the evaluation if it could be useful to perform a Challenge Test (e.g. if the end products are shelf stable even at room-temperature or they are vulnerable to spoilage and/or pathogenic microorganisms' growth even if stored at refrigeration temperatures). Other parameters to take into account are a pH and water activity and the use of preservatives. Food products typically included in such studies range from shelf-stable salads and condiments, refrigerated ready-to-eat (RTE) products like pasta entrees and deli salads, dairy products and juice drinks, to modified atmosphere packaged (MAP) products such as vegetables, meats, poultry and fish, bakery items stored at room temperature, confectionery and food formulated using new preservatives. Nevertheless, Challenge tests should be conducted when the processor requires useful information about specific processing protocols, HACCP and to evaluate and tune up sanitization procedures. Even if the Challenge Test is a very powerful instrument to test all these critical issues, it is usually performed inoculating selected (type) microorganisms into a food or formulation and then followed to asses if it may become a potential health hazard or a source of spoilage risk. The main limit of this standard approach to Challenge Test is to focus its analysis on standard strains with no history of presence in the food or formulation under scrutiny. The New Challenge Test overcomes these limitations identifying autochthonous contaminant strains and then performing the test evaluating their behaviour during the process, ensuring the product meet regulatory mandates and/or established finished product specifications. Companies working in food sector and interested to check and monitor food safety are sought for commercial agreement with technical assistance.

Advantages and innovations

The new Challenge Test enables the evaluation of the behaviour of autochthonous contaminant strains during the process, ensuring the finished products meet regulatory mandates and/or established finished product specifications to avoid spoilage and/or pathogenic organisms naturally occurring in the product.

Development stage

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Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)

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