Food-borne illnesses sicken millions and kill thousands in the United States each year. The annual cost is staggering: $14.1 billion to $16.3 billion, according to a 2013 USDA analysis. Consumers want safe and accurately labeled food. Food retailers are concerned with safety and in protecting their brand.
And that’s where food testing comes in. Meet food safety sleuth Mansour Samadpour, who operates the Institute for Environmental Health Laboratories. The name sounds like a public agency, but it’s not. It’s a private company. The lab works on a number of issues, including food safety and food fraud.
Mr. Samadpour, who opened IEH’s first lab in 2001 with six employees, now employs over 1,500 people at 116 labs in the United States and Europe. He refers to his company, one of the largest of its kind in the country, as “a privately financed public health organization.”
For those wondering how a private company might be faring where federal agencies are tasked with providing oversight, consider this:
Business is booming — partly because IEH clients consider testing to be a gatekeeper defense in a multitiered food economy without borders. “We’re a lot more concerned about imports,” Mr. Samadpour says, because of “lack of accountability, lack of infrastructure, lack of a culture of food safety.”