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South Africa Magazine talks to Anza Bester, business development manager at Swift Micro Laboratories, about food safety standards, expansion, a major milestone and the services the company provides. By Robert Michaels


Swift Micro Laboratories FEATURE


ince its inception in 1991 – it was the first commercial food-testing laboratory in South Africa – Swift Micro Laboratories’ brand name has become synonymous with quality and service. Today, celebrating 20 years of business, the company provides a comprehensive productsafety service to the food and beverage, cosmetic, hospitality and related industries throughout the SADC region. “I think we are certainly very unique amongst our competitors, not only as a result of our size or experience, but because we remain a market leader when it comes to innovation, quality and portfolio of services,” says Anza Bester, Swift’s business development manager. “Part of our mission statement is to match innovative approaches and quality management systems with the unique needs of each client. As a result, our service portfolio is continually expanding to meet demand and keep abreast of international trends, legislation and innovation.” Microbiological testing is the company’s core business, with clients able to access the largest range of ISO 17025-accredited microbiological test methods. Other services on offer include the design, implementation and auditing of quality management systems such as HACCP, PRP’s, ISO22000 and BRC. “Our state-of-the-art laboratories in Midrand and Cape Town employ highly-qualified microbiologists and food scientists to analyse products on the same day they are received,” Bester says.

Part of our mission statement is to match innovative approaches and quality management systems with the unique needs of each client

Trainers present customised courses in-house at clients’ premises, at Swift’s training venues in Midrand and Cape Town or in major centres across South Africa and Namibia. “Our training courses include group discussion, case studies and role-play and are customised according to individual client needs, specifications and processes,” adds Bester. Swift Micro Laboratories is a FoodBev SETA accredited training provider and holds exclusive rights to present the Campden BRI Advanced HACCP course in the SADC region. The company is now also an approved CPD accredited training provider for the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).


Swift Micro Laboratories FEATURE

Its Hygiene Department consultants are qualified in Environmental Health and/or Food Technology. Hygiene audits, based on regulations under the National Health Act (Act no. 61 of 2003) and R918, are customised. Audit findings are backed up by scientific evaluation of swabs, with product samples being tested in Swift’s ISO 17025 accredited laboratories and audit reports providing detailed action plans and recommendations. A technical support team is made up of technically-qualified Microbiology and/or Food Science staff whose core function is to provide technical back-up for clients. This team adds value by interpreting results and reports as well as conducting on-site problem solving to ensure customer satisfaction. Thusfar, 2011 has been an exciting year for Swift: besides celebrating 20 years of service excellence, Swift opened a new office in George (southern Cape), providing customers as far afield as Beaufort West and Humansdorp with access to a full portfolio of services. “Our same-day, top-quality service is now on offer to southern and Eastern Cape clients,” Bester explains. The company has expanded its scope of testing services, with accredited nutritional (and other chemical) analyses. It also has an exclusive service agreement with George Weston Technologies in Australia to provide nutritional and other chemical analyses locally. These include glycaemic carbohydrates, dietary fibre, vitamins, mineral and protein. 4

In June, Swift brought its services closer to the KwaZulu-Natal market when it opened a new regional office in Durban, located in Kingfisher Office Park in Mount Edgecombe. Services include independent microbiological sampling, hygiene audits, training/technical assistance with problem solving and help with microbiological monitoring programmes as well as quality management systems. The Durban office also serves as a depot for sampling equipment and carries items such as cooler boxes, ice bricks, swabs and sterile sample containers. Adding yet another string to its bow, the company’s commitment to quality management was rewarded on 3 June when it was declared a winner at the annual 2011 South African Quality Awards in the category Quality Services (for large enterprises). Run by the Department of Trade and Industry, the annual awards promote quality and effective quality-management methodologies in South African business. They recognise companies that “adhere to proper quality norms” and comply with local, regional and international quality standards.

Awards are made in five categories, with Swift receiving recognition for service that best reflects commitment to local production and quality. The win means the company qualifies for entry into the SADC Annual Quality Awards in 2012. “We are absolutely delighted to have received this award – it’s wonderful to be acknowledged for our hard work,” says Bester. While Swift has clients throughout South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Mauritius, its services are available to companies across the continent. “Swift Micro Laboratories is proud of the way we do business and we are vested in building long-term partnerships with our clients through service,” Bester concludes. END


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