A significant proportion of food safety incidents reported in the EU are due to imports, therefore ensuring the legal compliance and safety of imported food is vital for protecting consumers. The EU and other international organisations have recognised the value of improving food safety testing globally, so that risks can be identified and tackled at source. In the EU alone the value of exports and imports of foodstuffs today exceeds £690 billion (over 860 billion Euros).
The Fera International Food Safety Training Laboratory (Fera IFSTL), based near York, will primarily train scientists concerned with exporting foods to Europe. Experts from Fera will lead training programs that teach best practice methods to analysts from overseas, using state-of-the art technology and equipment for determining chemical contaminants and residues in food. This will enable food producing countries around the world to implement their own solutions and gain access to the opportunities offered by trade with Europe.
Speaking as he formally opened the new Training Laboratory Lord de Mauley, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Lords), said: “It’s very encouraging to see the public and private sectors working together to facilitate trade from outside the EU. This will improve food safety testing for food imported into the EU, ensuring food is safe before it reaches our tables.”
The new venture combines the respective regulatory and scientific expertise of both organisations. The Fera IFSTL draws on Fera’s extensive expertise as world leaders in the application of analytical chemistry to food safety testing and as the UK National Reference Laboratory for chemical contaminants in food, pesticide residues and veterinary drug residues.
Fera Chief Executive, Adrian Belton, commented, “We welcome this opportunity to be able to pass on our expertise in food analytical testing. This is underpinned by over 30 years scientific experience in the area, together with detailed knowledge of current and emerging regulations, and internationally recognised quality standards. All of our food analysis work is carried out in modern laboratories by highly trained scientists, using state-of-the-art analytical equipment.”
The Fera IFSTL is being launched as part of an international network of food safety training laboratories aimed at raising standards of food safety testing globally. The first IFSTL was opened in the United States in September 2011 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, University of Maryland and Waters®. The training facilities in the network will coordinate and share expertise. As new facilities are added to the network, they will do the same, increasing knowledge and the use of global best practices.
Said Waters Corp. Executive Vice President Art Caputo: “We are very pleased to partner with Fera in establishing this lab near York. We believe that this collaboration will lead to better science and technology, and this in turn will help us raise the bar on food safety. We know the scale of this challenge requires us to address it globally, which is why we are excited to expand the IFSTL network.”
As part of the collaboration with Fera, Waters helped establish the laboratory’s construction, provided analytical systems and assisted Fera in designing training programs. The facility is equipped with Waters’ state-of-the-art ACQUITY UPLC®-MS/MS systems, sample preparation components, and mycotoxin analysis tools.