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Challenge testing

Beat Listeria! 
Meet the Eurofins Challenge Team
Your product really safe on the shelves

The Eurofins Challenge Team is ready to help you to deal with any Listeria outbreak. We want to stop Listeria in its tracks just as much as you do. So: do you have a ready-to-eat food product? And do you want to control the growth of Listeria monocytogenes within the use-before date? Then we’ll be glad to help you. A risk assessment, if required together with a Challenge Test, is an essential part of the process. And that is necessary, to ensure compliance with the requirements of Information Sheet 85 of the NVWA (Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority). As market leader, Eurofins Food, Feed & Water is leading the way in Challenge Testing. Our advanced test method leads to the most accurate results. That is due to our leading Challenge Team, headed by our specialists Sandra Roesink-Smale, Liesbeth van Elst and Hanna van Gool. So what makes this team so successful?

We’re contagious!                                                                                                                        
Together with their large team of analysts, Roesink, Van Elst and Van Gool lead the Challenge Test Lab. That’s where they track down dangerous situations, so that together they can prevent them. The manager of the Eurofins Challenge Team is Ir. Sandra Roesink: “Our team deliberately infect a sample with a Listeria variety that can thrive in the specific product concerned. In this way we ` it to grow within the use-before date and in accordance with the storage recommendations. We have developed a test method that provides the most accurate results. And that makes the food on the shelves much safer. Before a food product appears on the shelf, the customer wants to be sure that the product is safe and meets the required legal standards. Because everyone wants to avoid a recall at all costs. With our team, we have the right knowledge to put the test method into practice correctly, and to give specialised advice in complex situations in which Listeria monocytogenes needs to be controlled. That means we can give our customers the assurance they need. And that takes a big weight off their shoulders.”

A closely knit team for safe food on the shelves
“As well as that, we take a lot of pleasure in our work together”, Roesink continues enthusiastically. “I wouldn’t want a different team!” Roesink started working at Eurofins 20 years ago as head of the Microbiology department. After that she moved to the position of advisor, where she works on consulting projects for customers. That also includes the Challenge Tests. While Roesink already had many years of experience at Eurofins before becoming head of the Challenge Testing department, Van Elst and Van Gool started work at Eurofins more recently. Liesbeth van Elst started three years ago after many years of experience running a microbiology laboratory, where she set up quality systems, carried out audits and handled the accreditation process through the Dutch Accreditation Council. Hanna van Gool has worked in the Eurofins Challenge Test team for the past year. While she was studying Food Safety at Wageningen University, she was already studying the subject of Listeria monocytogenes. After completing her studies, she first started work at a consulting firm before joining Eurofins. In brief: together they possess wide-ranging experience. And what all three specialists share is accuracy, perfectionism, integrity and enthusiasm. 


The Eurofins Challenge Team: a golden combination
“We have a lot of things in common”, says Van Elst. “And at the same time all three of us have different personalities that complement each other well”, Van Gool adds. “For example Liesbeth knows all the relevant legislation by heart, and she knows the fish segment from A to Z. That means she’s well able to translate the legislation into everyday practice. She has an incredible amount of knowledge about mathematical models and rate-of-growth testing, and is always ready to discuss any issues that come up”, both Van Gool and Roesink agree. “Hanna asks a lot of questions during the process. ‘Why did you choose to do something that way?’, for example. Those questions always make us think, and based on our findings we quite often make changes in a process. That really makes our team complete. As well as that, Hanna has a lot of knowledge about salads and sliced vegetables”, Roesink and Van Elst add. “And Sandra is a real team player: she makes sure everyone feels at home, and she’s very good at organising. And she also works – just like us – as project leader, and she has a lot of knowledge about non-refrigerated display products and prepared products”, according to Van Elst and Van Gool.


Direct contact with our project leaders 
“But what I enjoy most is the contact with our customers”, says Roesink. Van Elst, Roesink and Van Gool like to tell customers personally about the results and possible options. And of course all customers receive a report, so they can read all the findings and the underlying arguments for themselves. “We can ask customers in advance how their products and processes are designed, which ensures that we can advise them correctly right from the start. Sometimes we also visit customers’ sites to take a closer look at their production processes, or we join a visit by the NVWA. That means we always have close links to our customers, with a good understanding of their wishes.”


The future: preventing waste and slowing Listeria during production development
For the coming years the Challenge Team still has some ambitious plans. For example they want to make producers aware of the importance of Challenge Testing in other segments. “High on our wish list is extending Challenge Testing in the restaurant and catering market to help reduce food waste. With the right arguments, some products could easily be left on display for longer without refrigeration and without being thrown away as standard after only two hours. We also like to take a closer look at the recipes, to improve the keeping qualities of the product so there is no risk of Listeria developing. Part of the way we do that is on the basis of predictive microbiology. Increased use of food technology and slowing Listeria in the product: that’s what we’re aiming for in the future.”

Hand over your ‘challenge’! 
Controlling Listeria monocytogenes in your product? Test us! Give our specialists your ‘challenge’ and test their knowledge for yourself. We’re sure you’ll be positively surprised! Contact us on +31(0) 88 831 03 39 or at and find out about the Eurofins Challenge Team without obligation.

Eurofins Fresh & Safe 2.0

With Eurofins you’ll be able to take the safety and freshness of your food and water to the next level. We call this Fresh & Safe 2.0!

Do you have a question for our Challenge Team?