Merck KGaA Acquires Food Testing Firm

Billerica, MA 1/4/17—Merck KGaA, a science and technology company for health care, life science and performance materials, has acquired US-based BioControl for an undisclosed amount. BioControl provides assays and validated kits for microbiological tests for food safety, including industrial microbiological tests, tests for food-borne pathogens, tests for quantitative measurement of micro-organisms, and hygiene monitoring products. The company, which has more than one hundred employees, generated fiscal 2015 sales of $34 million.

Merck stated that the purchase expands its food and beverage safety testing business, particularly in the US. “BioControl’s innovative assays and validated kits, when combined with Merck’s strengths in microbiology, filtration and e-commerce will create a strong global provider aimed at solving tough challenges in the food pathogen testing space,” stated Udit Batra, member of the Merck Executive Board and CEO of its Life Science business.

Asked how BioControl’s pathogen testing technology is differentiated, Theresa Creasey, head of Applied Solutions Strategic Marketing & Innovation at MilliporeSigma, told IBO, “The Assurance GDS platform combines highly specific proprietary primer and probe-based detection with a patented sample preparation combined to proprietary media. Multiplex detection of pathogens streamlines the detection, e.g., for pathogenic E. coli or Salmonella. The immunological test formats can be provided as a manual or automated Enzyme Immuno Assay, allowing higher throughput, or as lateral flow test, serving lower-throughput needs.” 

Asked about MilliporeSigma’s food safety testing business, she said, “The life science business of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany is expanding its food safety testing business in order to offer complete testing platforms to its growing customer base in the food and beverage space. Following highly impactful food poisoning outbreaks and food recalls over the past five years, consumers have increased demands for safety. In response, some governments have imposed stringent regulations like the Food Safety Modernization Act in the U.S., which forces food manufacturers to better manage their global supply chain. One means to better controlling and guaranteeing safety is to increase the number of analytical tests on products.” She added, “The acquisition of BioControl Systems is in line with the company’s strategy to expand in key geographies, and provide a differentiated experience to customers in applied settings. As a well-known player in the market, Biocontrol Systems will allow the company to become a global leader in the food safety testing space. It will also mean substantial sales opportunities in Asia, EU and Latin America.”

The acquisition provides new product and distribution opportunities for Merck. Merck’s current food pathogen testing offerings include lateral flow tests, real-time PCR kits and dehydrated culture media. The acquisition adds additional antibody-based tests, as well as lateral flow test and PCR tests. The purchase also expands Merck’s hygiene and HACCP monitoring product lines for food safety.

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