Leatherhead’s has opened its new Pathogen Pilot Plant, otherwise known as DirtyLab. This new facility, with category II containment capabilities, allows Leatherhead to deliberately contaminate both conventional and new food products with pathogens in order to investigate the fate of such microorganisms under selected processing conditions.
“DirtyLab aims to support and expand our existing capabilities for challenge testing by providing an environment that directly replicates a food production area, but without introducing risks to the commercial production of food. It is an excellent facility for members and clients to further ensure the safety of their products,” said Wayne Morley, Head of Food Safety, Leatherhead Food Research.
DirtyLab can be used to validate the effectiveness of methods, processes, and equipment against known microorganisms. A complex food process can be undertaken, for instance the manufacture of a charcuterie product, and the manufacturing process itself can be challenged, as well as the final product. In addition, the cleaning and disinfection process for specific equipment can also be validated. For food itself, products can be produced and stored in controlled temperatures and humidity conditions over the product shelflife. DirtyLab also facilitates the verification of processing methods, preservatives, and different packaging technologies on a pilot plant scale.