Most people take for granted that the foods they buy are safe.
But if a problem rises, an independent consulting laboratory specializing in food forensics is opening soon in Marion.
CiboTech Lab, owned and operated by Dan Madgwick, is one of a few places nationwide that examines and identifies the physical contamination of foods.
?It?s basically a CSI for foods without the ?crime scene,?? he said about the lab. ?I get into the analysis.?
Madgwick said a lot of what he sees ranges from animals that can get into the food supply to animals that were put into the food supply.
?It?s pretty much anything physically tangible, (such as) metals, glass, plastics, even human remains on the rare occasion,? he said.
Some laboratories deal with microbiology related to salmonella, E. coli or other biological contaminants, while others might specialize in toxicological contaminants like fungal-type toxins, he said.
?What we are concerned with is physical contamination and seeing it?or seeing the effects of it,? Madgwick said. ?That is the type we get in on a daily basis.?
As an independent laboratory, Madgwick?s company is open to ?just about anybody,? he said, but the primary source of revenue is from food producers and retailers.
?We do get in samples from attorneys, insurance companies or other labs that use us as a sub-contractor,? he said.
The general public could also use Madgwick?s services, he said, if they were to find something or allegedly find something in their food.
?They could come to us with a question about how something got in their food or what is in the food,? he said.
Madgwick said there are not a lot of food forensic labs in the country.
?I could probably count on one hand the labs that actually specialize in food-borne contaminants,? he said. ?It is a pretty small niche.?
Attracted to Marion
A Kansas native, Madgwick said he is from the Garden City area, but went to Kansas State University in Manhattan.
?We passed through Marion a couple of times heading back west,? he said.
When he decided to start his own business, he said Marion County was ?business friendly? from his experience.
?It has been great (here) and the people are friendly and accommodating,? he said.
When it was time to move from the second floor to the ground floor at 404 Main, formerly the St. Luke Hospital Auxiliary Shoppe, Madgwick said the entire community rallied to help them.
?It is a great place and we are happy (to be here),? he said.
Madgwick?s undergraduate degree was in biochemistry and anthropology.
?In my anthropology studies,? he said, ?I was an advisee under a well-known forensics scientist, Mike Finnegan.?
Madgwick said Finnegan sparked his interest in forensics. By accident, he ended up in food forensics.
?After I got my master?s in biochemistry, my mentor, Lynn Bates, sought me out and showed me the ropes and the rest is history,? he said.
Madgwick said he worked for five years at ALTECA, a Manhattan-based company dealing with scientific solutions for the food and feed industries.
He decided to leave when the company starting moving more toward cosmetic manufacturing.
?It was not in my purview or interest, and I decided to strike out on my own,? he said
As for his workload, Madgwick said food forensics has its ups and downs. But for the most part, there is always someone requesting analysis.
He and wife Sarah have four children: Phinneas, 7, Georgia, 6, Clementine, 2 and Beatrix, 1.
?My wife is a stay-at-home mom, but her training is in culinary arts with a degree in the Spanish language,? he said.
Even with her full-time job as a mother, Madgwick said she plans to help with the day-to-day business.
?We are currently renovating the upstairs (of the building) and will probably not move in until the end of October,? he said.
Madgwick said he chose the business name because the Latin word for food is ?cibo? and the amalgamation of food and technology formed ?CiboTech.?
Roger Holter, Marion economic development director and interim city administrator, said Madgwick exemplifies the type of young professional Marion County is trying to attract.
?Dan brings his talents and expertise to grow the economy for many years to come,? he said. ?His clientele will include 40 large national firms, some being meat-packing plants.?
If these companies have foreign material in their product, Holter said, they will send it overnight to Madgwick?s office.
?He can then research it and tell them at what stage of the manufacturing process the contaminate is entering the supply chain,? he said.
This then gives companies a way to determine where the problem is.
Holter said Madgwick is able to go deep into the forensics process to determine what is being introduced.
?For companies, this will save them tons of liability (expense) and will also identify where the process breakdown is and get it fixed,? he said,
Holter said Sarah Madgwick is interested in starting a food business once her husband?s lab is established.
?We are excited to have Dan?s business and family joining our community,? Holter said.