New food safety lab highlights globalisation of food

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food safety Food standards agency International trade

The new safety lab is further evidence of the trend towards globalisation of the food chain
The new safety lab is further evidence of the trend towards globalisation of the food chain
Further evidence of the globalisation of the food chain has come with the announcement of the UK’s first food training laboratory designed to improve the safety standards of food and drink imports.

The training lab – run by government-funded Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) with support from the US Waters Corporation – will train food scientists from countries exporting produce into Europe.

Paul Brereton, FERA’s head of food science, told “Globalisation is a major factor behind this. We don’t have a European food supply, it’s a global food supply, which makes it important to verify the safety standards of imported food and drink.”

To be known as the FERA International Food Safety Training Laboratory, the facility will run courses on detecting food contamination techniques and food safety regulatory standards. Training will focus on chemical contamination of food and drink, microtoxins and detecting the presence of pesticides and veterinary drugs.

Educate the world

James Willis, Waters’ senior director, global market development, said: “Both organisations take the view that its required of us in food safety terms to provide resources to educate the world for safe food. And, if we don’t do that, then we are not doing our job as citizens of the world.”

The lab will eventually employ up to five people and receive with latest scientific equipment. Waters said it was investing up to £1.29M ($2M) in scientific equipment at the site.

When fully operational the lab will run up to four food safety courses a year, training up to 40 people per course.

While the lab would not be operated to maximise profits, it would not make a loss, said Brereton.

Willis added: Waters would benefit from “exposure to the market place and market intelligence”.

Next generation

That information would help to ensure “the next generation of lab equipment can more accurately reflect their needs.”

FERA chief executive Adrian Belton said: "This is an excellent collaborative opportunity which will lead to real benefits throughout Europe and beyond. Fera's food science experts are internationally recognised and now they will be able to pass on that expertise through this new purpose built training centre.”​  

Dr Andrew Wadge, chief scientist at the Food Standards Agency, said: “It’s very encouraging to hear of this new initiative that will train analysts from overseas in food safety testing and regulatory requirements for food being imported into the EU.

“ A significant proportion of recorded food incidents are due to imports therefore ensuring legal compliance and safety are vital for consumer protection."

To read our sister title Food Manufacture’s Big Interview with Wadge, click here​.

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