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I’m always a bit of a sucker for innovations and improvements that add value to our biological industries.

After all, as a country we’d be fools not to play to our major strength in producing food and fibre.

An innovation’s appeal is also greatly increased when it solves a problem – and in this particular case it is instantly identifying the presence of bacteria in food products.

It’s one reason I’m keen on seeing Veritide’s real-time, non-contact bacterial scanner gain more traction. (Note: Veritide’s in the process of updating its website following its pivot to concentrate on the food industry).

The Christchurch based startup has proven its ultraviolet light and florescence reading technology to detect (usually faecal) contamination on meat carcasses – working with ANZCO to prove its concept. (Bacteria emit back a slightly different wavelength of light – a clever algorithm can interpret the mass of light information obtained from a scanner, showing whether bacteria are present).

Particularly with fresh, chilled meat, bacterial spoilage is a major challenge on what is essentially a sterile product as the animal’s pelt is pulled off. The United States (with others sure to follow) has a Zero Faecal Tolerance on its importing borders, and detecting and remedying bacterially compromised meat is a multi-million dollar problem for the meat industry.

The current bacterial detection method is to take selected swabs from the carcass and meat plant surfaces, and grow these swabs on petrie dishes over three days.

As you can imagine, such a method is pretty hit and miss, and even with hygiene standards that match hospital operating theatres, meat companies find it difficult to detect and remedy bacterial contamination.

Hence, the potential attractiveness of a real-time, non-contact bacteria detector.

Not only can it assess all of a carcass (compared to selected swabs), but surfaces can be monitored as well. Remedying contamination is also, obviously, much quicker and easier.

Having proven its concept, Veritide’s looking to finish its prototype development and testing before the end of the year, and then take a sellable portable device to market. From that point of view, it is building on the initial investment made by Endeavour i-cap, Ngai Tahu Equities and Powerhouse Ventures.

While its initial target is the meat industry, it is a disruptive technology which has the potential to be a game changer within the meat and wider food industries. Apparently (though that’s always difficult to believe), there’s little competition from a real-time non-contact point of view.

Poultry and shellfish share exactly the same bacterial detection and mitigation problems – for which an instant ID would also be heaven sent.

So, as said at the beginning of this blog, Veritide solves a problem in our biological industries – it doesn’t have to go hunting for a market; there’s an obvious need. Compared to many other innovations it is what it commonly referred to as a no-brainer.

And, to mangle a metaphor…..the world’s their oyster.

On that basis, anyone’s free to give Veritide chief executive Craig Tuffnell a call on 021 945 944, or email on for more information or to find out how they could be more involved.

Bacteria detector set to scale up for food industry

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