R-Biopharm Rhône helps Malaysian government deal with upsurge in milk consumption

Scottish science company R-Biopharm Rhône is helping the Malaysian government with crucial research as the population of the dynamic and wealthy Asian country develops an appetite for a more Western diet.

The Glasgow-based company has been asked to help government officials to test milk and milk products for mycotoxins, which are produced by moulds and are found in a variety of foods. These toxins can cause cancers and can have a devastating impact on the human body.

Experts from R-Biopharm Rhône, one of Scotland’s most successful scientific exporters, presented at an important workshop this summer held by Malaysia’s National Reference Laboratory for Mycotoxins.

The event was attended by 30 government officials and seven of the country’s major laboratories and R-Biopharm Rhône trained them in testing milk and milk products. Traditionally, milk and dairy are much less common in the Eastern diet than in the West, but are becoming much more so as the pace of globalisation increases.

Product Manager Claire Milligan, who led the presentations and practical lab work over three days, said: “Workshops like this help to spread knowledge about mycotoxins and help food standard agencies to meet their regulatory obligations.

“As an illustration of the changes in diet, we were asked to develop a method for testing flavoured milk. Flavoured milk and milk shakes are a relatively recent phenomenon in Malaysia and their experts do not have much experience in testing them.”

R-Biopharm Rhône uses immunoaffinity columns to screen for and clean-up residues of toxins, with standards well in excess of EU requirements and detection in parts per trillion. Sales of its aflatoxin M1 kits, which test milk and dairy products are up by 24% in Malaysia and sales of its kits in general in Malaysia are up by 63%

The company, which is based in the West of Scotland Science Park, now has a headcount of more than 50, the highest total in its 25-year history. It is now by far the biggest and most profitable subsidiary of its parent company, German diagnostics company R-Biopharm AG.

Carol Donnelly, Marketing Manager at R-Biopharm Rhône, said: “Recent meetings with distributors in different Asian countries indicate that there is a lot of potential to be addressed there and we are working closely with our distributors to capitalise on our recent success.”

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