Branching out: A look at the work, processes, and expansion of Marshfield Food Safety
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — Marshfield Food Safety, LLC (MFS) provides testing services to food producing companies in the Midwest and nationwide. MFS tests for things like salmonella, E. coli, and listeria as historically it has been a microbiology-based business. Now MFS is also getting into the chemistry world, testing products for fat levels, protein, moisture, and more.
“About two years ago, we decided that we wanted to bring in the expertise and build a chemistry division,” said Marshfield Food Safety CEO Roy Radcliff. The chemistry division opened in January of 2015 and had a ribbon cutting ceremony in May.
Radcliff said that every item that has a nutritional label at a grocery store comes through a lab similar to MFS before it reaches the shelf. MFS is a subsidiary of Marshfield Clinic and was founded in 2002. Radcliff said that being in a medical community has been an advantage for MFS.
“It really sets us apart from a lot of other food testing companies because we do have access to infectious disease specialists or epidemiological specialists, or even we’re separate from Marshfield Labs, but we know everybody over there,” Radcliff said.
Marshfield Labs is a division of Marshfield Clinic, which has five veterinary diagnostic laboratories throughout Wisconsin and Ohio, a reference diagnostic laboratory that serves physicians throughout the Midwest, toxicology services, and also provides training to students for multiple career paths.
“It does help to be under the same umbrella,” Radcliff said.
Carlos Castro, the chief operating officer of MFS, said that Marshfield Labs even assisted in consulting MFS when they decided to build their chemistry division.
Concerning microbiology services, much of MFS’ workforce already lived in Marshfield when the company started, but two-thirds of employees have come from out of town for the chemistry division. MFS currently has 15 employees and has been expanding both its employee base and its services.
“As the business grows, we’ll be expanding further,” Radcliff said. He later added, “Yeah, it’s growing. We’re getting busier every month.”
Kwik Trip is one of MFS’ clients as is Cargill Meat Solutions. One of the challenges of the industry, Radcliff said, is differentiating MFS from competitors and getting recognized for their work. He said that customer service and fast turnaround times are two areas in which MFS aims to excel.
“We try to get the information to the clients as soon as we can or as fast as possible,” Radcliff said. “I think right now the industry average for a turnaround time for a nutritional label is 2-3 weeks, and our goal is to turn that around in 7-10 days.”
MFS, which has 11 labs throughout the United States and one in Canada, will choose its physical locations to some extent based on where major clients are located to cut down turnaround times. MFS has a lab in La Crosse, where Kwik Trip’s corporate headquarters is located.
“Each (lab) has an anchor client that they, they don’t serve exclusively, but a large portion of the work they do is for a (single) client,” Radcliff said.
Radcliff added that working in the food testing industry is exciting for him because his company can help a wide range of people from a public health perspective and also because MFS is able to play a problem solving role for clients.
He cited an example where a client was taking costly intervention steps to reduce bacterial load from its product, and MFS analyzed the client’s processes and found that they were not actually producing the desired result.
“It was exciting when we sat down with them, and we go through the results, and they were doing things that (were) costing them money, which in turn costs consumers money but wasn’t actually doing anything to reduce bacterial load,” Radcliff said. “Ultimately, it’s a trickle-down effect. People are getting safer food at a better price, and our clients were — in my mind — serving their moral obligation to provide a safe product to people.”
To find out more about Marshfield Food Safety, LLC, visit marshfieldfoodsafetyllc.com.