The firm said it will help meet clients’ expectations in a market that it expects to see a steady growth in as the industry continues to mature and public demand for safer and healthier food increases.
Work started in August and the refurbished laboratory was officially inaugurated on 1 November in the presence of Renaud Jonquières, SVP Middle East and Africa-Asia Pacific (MEA-ASPAC).
Mérieux NutriSciences operates three accredited labs in Mumbai, New Delhi and Bangalore (through its Indian operating entities: Microchem Silliker Pvt. and Mérieux NutriSciences Bangalore Pvt).
Growing Indian market
Emma Docquincourt, market analyst at MicroChem Silliker, said food safety is a growing subject in India and a focus of the government and the Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
“On one hand, to comply with an evolving and complex regulation, our customers require us to guide them and to be very knowledgeable about the latest regulatory amendments," she told FoodQualityNews.
“On the other hand, they expect us to not only offer testing services but also higher added value services which help them monitor their quality more effectively.
“To tackle the growing need for these special requests we will shortly launch a new division - the ‘Food Science Center’ – gathering all these services under one roof, with a dedicated space and team of research scientists.”
This center will focus on non-routine services such as audits, training, shelf life and stability studies, label review, nutritional analysis and nutritional labeling, product development support, process validation and sensory evaluation.
Mérieux NutriSciences in India has 370 employees of which 200 are based in the central laboratory and 60% of all staff have a technical position.
The firm did not disclose the lab size or investment made to refurbish it.
It follows the acquisition of Bangalore Testing Laboratories and its 20,000 sq ft. site earlier this year.
Specific needs in India
Docquincourt said the lab has a layout designed to maximize efficiency in sample flow for local and global customers.
“We provide services such as audits, training, label review, regulatory consulting and environmental monitoring program to help our customers ensure the safety of their products at every step of the food supply chain," she said.
“We have developed a strong scientific expertise in the testing of several food and beverage matrices to fulfill the specific needs of the booming Indian food industry. It includes chocolate, infant food formula, tea, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, ready-to-eat food and dairy products.”
The Mumbai lab offers microbiology and chemistry testing services, mostly for food testing.
This includes tests for pathogens (Salmonella, Legionella and E. coli), rapid detection methods using VIDAS, contaminants and residue monitoring (GMO, allergens, pesticides, heavy metals), authenticity testing and nutritional analysis.
Dr Pankaj Jaiminy, managing director of Mérieux NutriSciences in India, said it is important food testing labs strengthen in terms of skilled manpower, infrastructure and equipment to tackle market needs.
“India being the second world’s largest populated country behind China we expect to see a steady growth in food testing needs as the food industry continues to mature and the public demand for safer and healthier food raises.”