As the horsemeat scandal boils over on the global front burner, food firms worldwide are turning to a small Florida company to help determine whether their products are what they say they are.
And the enormous response it's received signals just how much the horsemeat controversy has shaken the world's faith in its food supply.
"The last time we had calls the way we're having now was through the Mad Cow incident," said Natalie Rosskopf, Administrative Director at ELISA Technologies, Inc.
ELISA specializes in protein tests that help food producers ensure beef is beef, poultry is poultry, pork is pork, etc. The chemicals tests are a big deal, boxed into small kits containing several vials of exclusive chemicals.
"It comes with everything you need," Rosskopf said. "This tells you yes or no; it's there or it's not there."
Abruptly, ELISA's horsemeat test kit, which runs $515 to $550, has become the company's best seller. In response to the discovery of horse meat in various food products in Europe, including IKEA, Nestle, and Burger King, the kits are now shipping worldwide— just as quickly as ELISA can produce them.
"We will be back-ordered probably until the middle or the end of March," Rosskopf said. "The [food] manufacturers want to make sure to give consumers peace of mind."
Rosskopf's firm also has begun accepting meat samples for testing at its off-limits, confidential lab. She said none of the samples that originated in the U.S. contained horse.
ELISA's says its tests are so sensitive, they can detect horsemeat in concentrations as low as one percent.
"They're very accurate," she said.
The flurry of orders is a sampling of the global concern over deceptive labeling, and a sense of just how much our confidence in our food supply has eroded.
"It's definitely a fraud issue," Rosskopf said. "If something says it's 100 percent beef, it should be 100 percent beef."