A BUSINESS based in Ebbw Vale is helping the food industry fight back against the effects of allergies.

It is thought up to eight per cent of British children and two per cent of adults suffer with a food allergy – and the problem is growing.

PiQ Laboratories, based at UKSE’s Ebbw Vale Innovation Centre, works with food manufacturers to test for allergens to help them make sure labelling is accurate and food is safe.

Laboratory manager Ashleigh Hirst-Knowles said allergies are an alarming and growing threat.


“Allergy is the most common chronic disease in Europe, with the UK suffering some of the highest prevalence rates of allergic conditions in the world,” she said.

As well as allergen testing, UKAS-accredited PiQ works with food manufacturers to ensure quality and authenticity.

Ms Hirst-Knowles added: “In 2013 there was the horse meat scandal, and there are issues about the labelling of fish that have been in the news.

“Manufacturers and retailers want to know that food is safe, and is actually what it claims to be on the label."

The new laboratory was set up in EVIC last year, and PiQ are delighted with the location and the support received from UKSE.

“We spent some time trying to find the right location,” said Ms Hirst-Knowles.

“There were some places which did not want a laboratory on their site, but at EVIC they were great. The staff here were very happy to work with us and help us get established.”

Martin Palmer of UKSE said he was delighted PiQ had chosen EVIC as their base.

“This is an innovative and forward-thinking company, the type of business that EVIC was designed to cater for," he said. “I am very pleased they will be increasing their work force providing skilled opportunities for local people, and I wish them every success.”

The business received a £1000 Kickstart Plus grant, provided jointly by UKSE and Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council to support their investment in the laboratory.


Cllr Dai Davies, executive member for regeneration and economic development from Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council said: “I am pleased to say that another business from the Blaenau Gwent area has benefited from the Kickstart Grant plus scheme.

"We are continuing to support local businesses whether they are existing or new.

“I wish PiQ Laboratory all the success. The grant scheme is delivered in partnership between the council and UKSE.

“Whether you are a new or existing business, please contact our regeneration team and visit the Blaenau Gwent Council website for further information. We also encourage businesses to register to the Council’s free Business Hub, where support and information is available to businesses”

PiQ employs five staff and has plans to take on another scientist, as well as laboratory technicians.

“We are confident we can find the right people locally and we are very pleased that we chose EVIC as our home,” added Ms Hirst-Knowles.