Tyson Foods, America's largest provider of chicken, beef and pork, announced this week the completion of its newly expanded and upgraded laboratory in Arkansas, just south of company's world headquarters.
The $5.2 million (€4.4m) expansion has more than tripled the laboratory's square footage, providing a state-of-the-art facility that the company believes will greatly increase its capabilities in analytical testing and food safety research. A sizeable area of the refurbished lab has been dedicated solely to food safety research where new food safety products and processes will be tested for effectiveness.
"This lab expansion is yet another example of our commitment to remaining our industry's leader in food safety," said Tyson Foods chairman and CEO John Tyson. "The capabilities of this new facility and our expanded commitment to research will ensure our products remain among the safest and most wholesome available."
The new facility includes a microbiology research centre, which conducts complex studies on microbiological pathogens. The microbiology department utilises a battery of rapid procedures that increases the efficiency and accuracy of testing, while decreasing turn-around time.
Over the next few months, new DNA-based technology will be incorporated that will enable the microbiology department to identify microbial strains according to genetic composition. With the integration of new equipment and technology, the facility will test samples from 68 Tyson production facilities nationwide.
The new laboratory is one of the few facilities in the US to have earned two International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO) certifications. The lab holds certifications for ISO 9001-2000, which creates guideline standards for quality management and improvement through prevention of nonconformities; and ISO 17025, which is a standard specifically for testing and calibration.
"These ISO quality management systems are very difficult to obtain, but having them will ensure unsurpassed quality for our products," said Dr. Ellis Brunton, senior vice president of science and regulatory affairs at Tyson. "I am very proud of our group for a job well done in the implementation of these two quality systems."
The new laboratory is one of 18 labs in the Tyson Food Safety and Laboratory Services Network. These labs are strategically located throughout the US, with one lab in Canada.
Tyson Foods, which was founded in 1935, is the world's largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef and pork and the second largest food company in the Fortune 500. Tyson Foods produces a wide variety of brand name protein-based and prepared food products marketed in the United States and more than 80 countries around the world.