The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) and Waters Corporation are to open a new lab-based training facility in the UK in an effort to improve the standard of imported food “at the origin.”
The York-based Fera International Food Safety Training Laboratory (Fera: IFSTL), which is scheduled to open in October 2012, will educate food safety professionals from both the public and private sectors on global food safety standards.
The training course, which is expected to appeal to food analysts from countries exporting to the European Union (EU), will also teach the latest analysis methods and how to apply these techniques to meet the highest food safety regulations.
Global food trade has increased significantly over the last 20 years, which has led to concerns over the standard of food manufactured in developing nations such as China and India.
Through the establishment of the IFSTL, Waters and Fera hope to provide trainees with a better understanding of current standards and improve the safety of food at the source.
Harmonisation of practices
“Global food trade has more than tripled since 1990; exports now total nearly $1tn per year. This steep growth rate makes the task of assuring food safety increasingly difficult. Government inspections alone are not the answer,” said Waters’ senior director of global market development, James N. Willis told DairyReporter.com.
“Exporters face the challenge of ensuring their food products meet ever more demanding standards in their target markets. Differing standards in different countries adds to the complexity for exporters eager to comply.”
“Expanding the capacity of foreign governments and food producers to conduct quality checks that meet regulations before they ship exports will provide an added layer of protection for food supplies,” said Willis.
Willis added that once opened, the facility will provide trainees with the understanding of standards and increased scientific know how to improve food safety at the source.
Mike Wray, operations director at Fera added: “This will help promote a harmonisation of practices that will strengthen the safety of the food supply before it reaches the table.”
Through initial funding, Waters will establish construction of the lab, which Fera will then manage. Training course fees will be used to fund the facility, with an eventual aim of becoming self-sufficient.
Waters will also assist Fera in designing the training programmes and equip the labs with state-of –the-art systems, sample preparation components and mycotoxin analysis tools.
“Fera will be able to provide dedicated, bespoke training facilities. This would not be possible without private investment. Fera have provided training in the past, however to have an onsite facility with excellent equipment and designated space will enable Fera to build a reputation for excellent training to match its excellence in science,” said Wray.
The York-based facility will be the second IFSTL established in partnership with Waters Corp.
The first facility opened in September 2011 – a venture between the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the University of Maryland and Waters.