Food and Beverage Industry News talks with Vendart Diagnostics technical product manager, Abi Dickinson, about her enthusiasm to discuss food safety testing solutions at Food Tech and present CytoQuant – the first mobile flow cytometer the world has ever seen – at the event.
Convening at this year’s Food Tech is an exciting prospect for Abi Dickinson – it’s a chance to connect and share information on the important advances being made in testing solutions.
“Shows like Food Tech are an important way for people in the industry to meet face to face and chat about how we can help each other,” explains Dickinson. “Advances in technology are allowing us to take leaps forward in improving cleaning verification procedures and maintaining high food safety standards. We are looking forward to seeing our customers, old and new, to show how Vendart can help with their testing needs.”
In particular, Vendart Diagnostics will be showcasing a brand-new solution for monitoring the levels of bacteria and residue on surfaces in real time. This is CytoQuant; the world’s first hand-held, mobile impedance flow cytometer.
“Using a simple swab test, CytoQuant can detect and measure all bacteria and residue on surfaces in 30 seconds, allowing the proper verification of both cleaning and disinfection procedures, immediately and on-site,” Dickinson elaborates. “The measurements are not influenced by temperature, pH or disinfectants and the test is so easy to perform that anyone can use it.”
Dickinson believes CytoQuant is a game-changer for food processing businesses as it’s the only solution on the market that can provide real-time microbiological monitoring.
“CytoQuant is the first mobile flow cytometer the world has ever seen – there is nothing else like it available on the market,” she enthuses. “It will deem old cleaning and disinfection verification methods, like ATP testing, as obsolete.”
As food safety depends upon the cleaning practices of food manufacturers, ensuring the efficacy of these processes is essential. Conventional testing methods such as ATP swabs provide a useful indicator of cleaning efficacy but will not determine if surfaces have been properly disinfected. Likewise, traditional plate count methods are also limited – they can take days to provide a result and only one per cent of bacteria is culturable.
“CytoQuant enables the detection of all bacteria with an intact cell wall, and the results are available instantly,” says Dickinson. “And even though the implementation procedure is not essentially that different from current methods, we will work closely with food processors to implement their new monitoring program with a three-step plan. Importantly, CytoQuant is a very easy to use hand-held device and requires no installation or special training.”
While Vendart will be putting the spotlight on the new CytoQuant solution at Food Tech, it is one tool in a whole arsenal of testing solutions the company has to offer. Dickinson is genuinely passionate about the difference her company’s solutions can make to food processers in Australia.
“We supply all kinds of testing equipment – such as test strips, kits and instrumentation – which ensure food safety and quality procedures are working as they should be,” she says. “This might be checking that you’re using the correct concentration of sanitiser on surfaces or fruit and vegetable wash; detecting nitrate or vitamin C concentrations in food products; validation of pasteurisation in milk and routine pH testing, to name just a few examples.”
The team at Vendart are close-knit and equally impassioned to make a difference – a great fit for Dickinson who has a degree in marine biology and a master’s in wildlife conservation.
“Historically, Vendart has been heavily involved in environmental water monitoring which is where I began, but over the years we have evolved and grown and are now present in many other industries including food and beverage,” she shares. “We are a small team of technical and scientific-minded people, each invested in helping Australian businesses maintain high levels of safety through monitoring and testing.”
A self-labelled “jack of all trades”, Dickinson works in every facet of the business – and loves it.
“I’ve been with Vendart for over a decade. My current focus is product management for CytoQuant so I work closely and liaise with everyone including the manufacturer, sales team, very knowledgeable inhouse chemist, logistics and marketing – I absolutely love it!” she says. “But my official role at the moment is project management which I can do on a part time basis while I raise my children.”
After a few years of pandemic disruption, Dickinson is excited about this year’s Food Tech. It’s also an opportunity to showcase what Vendart Diagnostics can do for food processors and manufacturers in Australia.
“We are brand new to Food Tech and are really excited to get amongst it this year with some innovative new products to present – we offer a wide range of testing solutions for all food processing facilities, so please come and chat to us at Food Tech and find out how we can help your business.”