Types of Food Testing
3 min

Types of food testing

Posted by: TÜV SÜD Expert Date: 30 Mar 2023

The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) [1] supports food safety and regulatory programmes to ensure a wholesome diet for the citizens of Singapore. From food additives and preservatives to nutritional value and pesticide residues, there is a wide range of food testing requirements in Singapore.

This article will explain the main types of food testing applicable in Singapore.

Types of Food Testing

Chemical Contaminant Testing
These tests confirm the presence of chemicals and residues of toxic metals, including lead, arsenic, mercury, cadmium, and tin. It applies mainly to seafood, processed meat, offal, water, and tinned food. Other tests are useful for detecting:
1. Acrylamide
2. Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
3. Chloropropanols such as 1,3-DCP and 3-MCPD

Nutritional Analysis, Preservatives, and Food Additives
These tests detect nutritional components, food additives, and preservatives. They are also used as freshness indicators.
1. Nutritional analysis – These tests detect the fat, protein, sugar, fibre, starch, cholesterol, omega-3, amino acid, moisture, and salt content. They also trace the presence of vitamins and essential minerals.
2. Freshness indicators – These tests detect volatile nitrogen, free fatty acids, thiobarbituric acid, rancidity, and trimethylamine.
3. Food additives and preservatives – These tests look for benzoic, sorbic, and boric acids, added colours, nitrite and nitrate, sulphur dioxide, formaldehyde, and parabens.

Drug Residue Tests
These tests detect residues of antibiotics, veterinary drugs in meat and fish, and growth promotants before comparing them to the safety limit according to international standards.

Pesticide Residue Tests
The pesticide tests include the detection of fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides. Other tests include growth regulators such as organochlorine, pyrethroids, organophosphorus pesticides, carbamates, and chlorophenoxy acetic acids.

Food Microbiology Tests
These tests involve a microbiological examination of fresh and processed meat, dairy, and fish for quality and safety. It includes the detection of food-borne pathogens like Salmonella, Vibrios, Shigella, Yersinia, Listeria, Clostridium, Campylobacter, E. Coli, and Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci.

Food-borne Parasite Tests
The tests to detect parasites cover protozoan parasites, cestodes, nematodes, and trematodes. Other food-borne parasites of concern are Giardia, Anisakis, Cyclospora, Sarcocystis, Cysticercus cellulose and Cysticercus bovis, and Trichinella Spiralis.

Physical Quality Tests
Physical quality tests determine the integrity of canned foods and identify defective ones. This also includes tests for food authenticity, for example –
• Identification of the origin of the meat using the gene PCR analysis and isoelectric-focusing electrophoresis
• Detecting the real shark fin and differentiating it from an imitation using microscopic methods
• Differentiating raw and fresh meat from frozen-thawed meat

Food-borne Toxin Tests
The food-borne toxin tests include tests for mycotoxins, marine biotoxins, bacterial toxins, and other natural toxins and allergens. These are used in food and animal feedstuff for export health certification and import control.

Molecular Biology and GMO Analysis
This includes the detection and quantification of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) such as Roundup ReadyTM soy (Monsanto), Bt-11 corn (Syngenta Seeds), Bt-176 corn, StarLinkTM corn, and YieldGard Mon810 corn.


To comply with the food safety regulations in Singapore, businesses must onboard a third-party food testing service. While looking for a service provider, one must look for services such as investigative microbiology, molecular biology, pathogen detection, and rapid microbiology.



1. https://www.sfa.gov.sg/


Related Service: Novel Food Testing Certification

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