Maxxam Analytics opens first US food testing lab

Kansas State University Olathe

Maxxam Analytics (Maxxam) has opened a 3,000-square foot food testing laboratory in Kansas.

The provider of food, environmental, industrial hygiene and DNA analytical testing said it is its first US food testing lab, building on the ones it has in Canada.

The ISO 17025 accredited lab is in the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor at Kansas State University Olathe.

Ralph Richardson, dean and CEO of K-State Olathe, said: "[The] company has created new jobs in Olathe and is helping usher in a more skilled workforce for the region by giving K-State Olathe's graduate students the opportunity to learn Good Laboratory Practice operating standards and industry-based lab operations before graduation."

Mutual benefit

Donna Garbutt, Maxxam’s CEO, said it was excited to work with the university and the relationship would bring mutual benefit.

Food testing is a big part of our testing in the food space, for the overall organization it is the largest percentage of what we do,” she said.

“Our focus in Kansas is on the pet food market to begin with before we expand into human food. We have existing customers of ours for a number of years that have existing production plants in the area.

“We are focused on making sure we assist customers to meet the regulatory environment but there is also a big interest in the food industry. Everything is reviewed and that goes from the microbiology and chemistry perspective and if a product makes claims with regards to allergens etc that must be validated by an independent source.”

The testing lab will ensure food meets safety and regulatory requirements through its microbiology, chemistry and residue testing.

The Maxxam lab at K-State Olathe has 10 employees including researchers, a lab manager and a number of analysts, but plans to grow to 15 staff.

Expansion opportunity

Garbutt said being aligned with the university was a good opportunity to access the latest research while providing opportunities to graduate students to get experience in a production environment.

“We have the general standard suite of equipment for microbiology and chemistry testing including GC-HPLC, incubators and a lab space. We are there to be local – turnaround time is 24 hours but we can do faster, it depends on the need and of course some tests take longer,” she said.

“We have clients and experience in Canada but the food industry is global. We have customers here in Canada that also have facilities in the US and when we looked at expansion it made sense that it was Kansas City. If we need to deal with a large uptick in a short time we don’t need to run couriers long distance.

“There are regulatory differences in the US and Canada but a lot is consistent and there are more similarities than differences. How we operate the lab is the same and we can use our experience in the space but different customers are available in the US versus Canada.”

Maxxam is part of the group of companies under Bureau Veritas.

The food division is specialized in microbiology, chemistry and residue testing of samples.

It has 2,200 employees in 45 facilities across North America processing over 2.5 million samples a year.

Bureau Veritas is in lab testing, inspection and certification services. The group has more than 70,000 employees in 1,330 offices and labs in 140 countries.

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