What’s in your food? Clear Labs nabs $6.5M to help the food industry find out

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Credit: IBM

While a large portion of people in the U.S. may have a fascination with the quality of food that goes into their bodies, the process for testing that food is pretty inefficient, costly, and hasn’t changed much in decades.

“Traditional food testing methods require you to know what it is you’re looking for prior to testing,” and is limited to one component per test, Clear Labs CEO Sasan Amini told me in an interview. Because of this, he said, much of the food industry only performs tests on food as a reactionary method.

That’s something his company Clear Labs aims to fix with its Clear View molecular food testing technology, which launched in beta recently. The tech can take a single sample of food and provide an analysis on all ingredients, accuracy of those ingredients, and of course the quality of the food itself. The company told me Clear View uses genomic sequencing and analysis, which is the same tech used in clinical trials to personalize cancer treatments.

While that tidbit is interesting, I don’t know how relevant it is to Clear Labs ability to make money. That didn’t stop the startup from closing a $6.5 million round of funding today, led by Khosla Ventures and Felicis Ventures. Also, the startup does have a promising business strategy, which includes focusing less on safety testing for bacteria and other harmful substances while targeting large consumer food brands and companies.

Since Clear View can give you a breakdown of everything that’s in a particular type of food, Amini said he sees a bright future getting the marketing departments to rally in support of testing a whole line of products to improve sales. One example he gave would be a well-known food brand doing analysis on all existing lines of products to find out which naturally do not contain gluten. Theoretically, this data could be used to form a whole new line of gluten-free products without spending much more than packaging design and advertising.

Additionally, Clear Labs provides its clients with access to a database of food analysis to help them make decisions about the food they produce. You won’t be able to check out individual competitors products, as all the data is anonymized and reinterpreted into useful stats by the Clear Labs team.

Amini said Clear Labs plans to launch the full version of its food analytics and database platform in the first half of 2016.

 

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alvin baker

This is great news. I hope they really do mean “everything”….so much residue of pesticides, packaging preservatives and PCBs and other plastics, and just so much crap isn’t on food labels. For example, almost all canned food contains carcinogenic plastics from the way the cans are usually treated. It really just goes on and on…and most of it isn’t required to be (or even could be probably) labelled… A company than can guarantee at least cleaner food would be a great boon for grocery stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joes, as well as any company that cares at all about their customers. I hope this is as good as they are claiming.

Another source of toxics are the cleaning products used in big factories, in cleaning tanker trucks and the like, and so on…there is just a load of chemicals in most food. One could go on all day about the crap that gets into food these days.

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