Laboratory Services

As we continue to make and deliver the world’s finest pet food we continue to invest in state of the art laboratories that provide cutting edge technology. GA’s core value of Quality is of paramount importance in all functions of the business and none more so than the onsite laboratory.

All ingredients (800+) at GA are subjected to numerous quality checks to ensure only the best ingredients are accepted for use in the products. Every ingredient has an individual tailor-made testing regime and specification in line with the attributes and vulnerabilities of the ingredients. These have been determined by detailed risk assessments of each ingredient prior to purchase.

The ingredient specifications and testing schedules are regularly reviewed and updated in line with new and developing threats within the food and feed industry. Specifications also ensure legal and safety compliance as well as nutritional and quality compliance.

This unique system ensures full traceability of every product.

Rancidity Checks and Positive Release

Oxidation is a series of natural chemical reactions that degrade the quality of fats and oils. All oils are in a state of oxidation so we must analyse the stage of oxidation before accepting the material for use in production. To achieve this all fats and oils are tested for signs of primary oxidation by testing and comparing the peroxide value against the free fatty acid level using QCL and METALAB.

All fats, oils and meals are also closely analysed for distinct taints of rancidity aroma against reference samples by experienced analysts.

Mycotoxin and Heavy Metal Testing

Every delivery of grain, cereals and crops is analysed within our laboratory for mycotoxins, including Aflatoxin, Fumonisin, Ochratoxin, Zearalenone, T-2/HT-2 and Deoxynivalenol.

Ingredients are tested for heavy metals on a frequency according to the risk assessment based testing schedule. Testing is currently completed by an external UKAS accredited laboratory and include Arsenic, Cadmium, Fluorine, Lead and Mercury.

We are looking to add heavy metal testing to our internal laboratory testing facilities which will allow an increase in testing and reduction in result turnaround time.

Every ingredient delivered is compared to a reference sample of the previous delivery from our sample library.

Additional samples are stored in our archive store should any future test be required. Each ingredient is reviewed on an individual basis. Many different factors are considered when setting the target and tolerance width. There is no one set rule.

New Equipment

The following equipment is being purchased and will allow GA to undertake in house PV & FFA tests on all meals and oils. These tests are to ensure that GA only use the best ingredients. The equipment needed to extract oil from a dry meal sample is as follows.

CEM Edge

This machine uses solvents to extract the oil from Dry Raw Material samples

Biotage – TurboVap LV

This machine removes the solvents used to extract the oil from the meal to make it ready for testing

Mettler Toledo – T7 Titrator

This titrator unit can test any oil sample for PV (peroxide value) or FFA (free fatty acids)

An Interview With Maja Migas – Laboratory Manager

Maja Migas – Laboratory Manager

What is your previous experience of working Labs?

My academic background includes a BSc and MSc in Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology. It provides me with a broad theoretical foundation in various fields of bioscience, such as Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Biotechnology in the food industry, genetic engineering methods, in vitro cultures and Embryology. During my time at University, I also had an excellent opportunity to be a part of the team which worked on the laser therapy used in cancer treatment.

My career has always been associated with the food industry. My first job was working in a very busy Microbiological Laboratory, where the primary responsibility was carrying out microbiological checks on raw materials, finished goods and environmental testing. In addition to this role, assistance to technical management with the implementation and maintaining the standards for a quality system, BRC, accreditation and project work was also part of my role.

During that time, I was also able to work on developing new testing methods and setting up a brand-new testing facility. Since November 2016, I have worked for GA Pet Food Partners, where my career progressed from Laboratory Development Technician to Laboratory Manager.

What changes have you seen in Lab testing at GA in recent years?

I have worked for GA for almost four years, and it’s incredible to see how the in-house laboratory testing has changed over the last few years. We have increased internal testing, and are now able to report the result much quicker. We have developed an in-house laboratory that is industry-leading and enables real-time process control decisions to be made based on objective evidence.

The GA laboratory employs the latest in rapid technologies and provides data of integrity to ensure both goods in and goods out pass all the necessary criteria. Equipped with the most advanced instruments allowing rapid parameter assessment & generating objective data, we can report most of the wet chemistry results in minutes as opposed to hours.

Thanks to the rapid testing methods in 2019, we were able to perform 78,297 tests (wet chemistry + microbiological testing) which is 20,000 more tests than in 2018.

What do you think will be the most significant benefit(s) of the new laboratory facilities for our partners?

GA’s Quality & Food Safety laboratory will showcase the very best & innovative approaches to testing pet food ingredients and finished products. It is designed to be cross-functional with set areas covering Nutritional & Regulatory Compliance, Authenticity & Microprofiling, Safety, Sensory & Quality. The laboratory will satisfy the strategic brief by enhancing our partner’s confidence and adding value to the finished products by delivering:

  • Analytical Integrity – Robust test methods & working within partners specifications results
  • Accessible Data & analytical transparency
  • Operational Value-Adding – Process control by fast & accurate analysis

What do you think the future looks like for pet food production and testing?

Pet food is one of the fastest-growing segments in the food industry right now. Partners do not want traditional pet food. Pet owners are looking for pet food that reflects their taste. We can see already that there has been an increase in premium products with natural, organic, grain-free ingredients and made to order diets.

I think that minerals, vitamins and heavy metal testing will increase in the future because of partner and end-customer demands. The end customer wants healthy ingredients, and they want to understand the ingredients list. I think that the pet food industry will continue to experiment with unconventional sources of animal protein that can benefit both pets and planet.