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China approves Omega's Food Detective tests

ALVA-based medical testing company Omega Diagnostics has secured approval for use of its food intolerance product – Food Detective – in China as it seeks to target the country's expanding middle class.

The development has come just two months after the Clackmannanshire company signed a distribution agreement for the product in India.

Food Detective, which typically tests a person's reaction against 59 common food types, has been adapted for China to test reactions against 14 common foods.

The product will be distributed by HOB Biotech Group Suzhou under an existing distribution deal.

Andrew Shepherd, chief executive of Omega, said: "We are pleased to have finally received this formal registration for Food Detective and are delighted to be working with HOB Biotech in promoting this product for the health and well-being among China's large middle class population."

The components of the product will be shipped from the UK but assembled in China. The tests will assess intolerance to various cereals, nuts and beans, meats, fish, vegetables, eggs, ginger and tea.

Omega saw sales of Food Detective rise 5% year-on-year in the first half of its financial year to £539,000.

It has identified emerging markets, particularly the BRIC states – Brazil, Russia, India and China – as key targets for growth.

Robin Campbell, healthcare analyst at Seymour Pierce, said: "There have been delays to get Food Detective registered in China, with an original forecast of 2012 approval. This news is positive, although expected, and sales should commence in early 2013."

Omega had a tough first half to its financial year, with pre-tax profit falling 21.7% to £132,000 after the wet summer hit demand for allergy products. Exchange rate movements also reduced earnings from continental sales.

But the company recently received £1 million of funding from Bank of Scotland to prepare commercial production of a HIV testing device that will be trialled by aid agencies next year.

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