Development & Alumni Relations Office 


19 January 2021

Queen’s spin-out company Bia Analytical Ltd has expanded its laboratory-based food authenticity testing services with two additional spices, black pepper and turmeric.  

The Belfast based food authentication-testing laboratory now offers rapid authenticity testing for four herbs and spices – oregano, sage, black pepper and turmeric. In addition, the company will also start providing bespoke model development services for customers with specific authenticity testing needs.

Following successful seed funding at the beginning of 2020, Bia Analytical Ltd kicked off its research and development work in April last year but faced a range of challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, despite the conditions, it has now completed the work on building new chemometric models for black pepper and turmeric.

These models are used in conjunction with spectroscopic instruments to provide accurate authenticity testing and detect Economically Motivated Adulteration (EMA) in food ingredients.

As part of the model development, the team carried out extensive work on identifying the most commonly sold varieties of the spices and their countries of origin, sourcing many authentic samples and adulterant materials. The tests have been rigorously validated to ensure accurate and reliable results are provided to customers. This work is essential to support businesses who trade in these commodities and food companies who sell produce to consumers.

Dr Terry McGrath, Bia Analytical Ltd Founder and Chief Technology Officer who is leading the development of the portable testing device, said:

“Although the pandemic has brought new challenges in the way we work, the team managed to analyse the hundreds of samples necessary to complete these complex models that are used in our laboratory testing service.

“The data will also be incorporated in the new portable device that we are planning to launch later this year.”

He further commented: “These tests are the first of many in our pipeline and I am confident we will soon be announcing further new tests to the portfolio.”

Professor Chris Elliott, Bia Analytical Ltd Founder and President, commented on the launch of the additional testing methods, saying:

“This is a big step and I am delighted to see the company realising my vision of providing rapid and reliable authenticity testing to further strengthen the integrity of the global food supply chain.

“We will continue to work with key industry partners and our customers to make sure our service offering meets the market needs and supports the on-going fight against food fraud.”

Continuing to work on expanding its quick three-day laboratory testing services with additional herbs and spices, Bia Analytical is preparing for the launch of a portable solution that provides instant authenticity testing results at the point of sampling.

Bia Analytical is aiming to become the industry-recognised test provider for authenticity of food ingredients, to ensure food integrity across global supply chains.

The company has developed industry-leading food authenticity testing methods that can help protect the entire food supply chain against food fraud and offer reassurance that food products have been tested with the best food authenticity detection methods possible.

Media enquiries to Bia Analytical Ltd Marketing and Administration Officer, Veronika Bradley.

QUBIS is the commercialisation arm of Queen’s University, Belfast. Formed in 1984 it has a long and strong track–record in creating new technology start–ups, and otherwise helping commercialise leading–edge technology from the Queen’s research base.

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