Tate & Lyle
Carst and Walker
Nestle R&D Lab

Nestlé opens most advanced lab in industry to study food pathogens

Nestlé has opened the most advanced laboratories of their kind in the food industry to study food-borne pathogens that are harmful to human health.

The new facilities at the Nestlé Research Center in Switzerland will have a high level of ‘bio-containment’, meaning certain areas will be sealed with access restricted to trained personnel who must wear protective clothing and adhere to strict hygiene procedures.

The company is using the most sophisticated scientific techniques available to refine the processes it uses to kill pathogens without destroying the nutritional value of its food.

“We constantly face familiar pathogens like salmonella, but there are newer threats as these pathogens evolve,” said Nestlé’s Chief Technology Officer Werner Bauer. “We have to stay one step ahead.

“The research done here will undoubtedly be a great asset for Nestlé, but we also have a responsibility to communicate and share the results with the scientific community and consumers, so everyone can benefit.”

“Consumer health and safety are at very core of what we do today, and what we have always done.

“We need more data and more state-of-the-art technologies to guide our product development and to ensure our products continue to be absolutely safe.”

The new facility includes:

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) laboratory

PCR is a molecular technique that targets specific sequences of nucleic acids such as DNA. It is a powerful tool for the identification and characterisation of bacteria, which can also be used to detect in raw materials species of meat that may be used to commit food fraud.

Typing laboratory

Molecular typing is a process used to understand bacteria properties in order to conduct a microbial risk assessment. Nestlé uses a process called ‘ribotyping’ to fingerprint individual organisms.

P3 laboratory 

There are four recognised levels of bio safety worldwide. P3 means level three. This requires staff to be highly trained and to adhere to strict procedures, including changing clothes when they leave. The laboratories operate at negative pressure, ensuring no air can leak out. All air leaving the labs is filtered. Research on food borne viruses such as norovirus and pathogenic strains of E. coli will be conducted here.

Pic caption: The official opening of the lab – L-R: John O’Brien, Head of Food Safety at the Nestlé Research Center, Werner Bauer, Nestlé Chief Technology Officer (a previous head of Nestlé South Africa) and Thomas Beck, Head of NRC.

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