Friday, September 23, 2011


Food safety failures leading to hundreds of cases of food related poisoning episodes all over the world are time and again focusing on the inadequacy of the existing vigilance system. While scientists are continuously improving the methodologies involved in detecting and quantifying food contaminants on a continuous basis, the efforts do not seem to be catching up with the emergence of new dangers from newer vectors. E.coli is a classical example and it is amazing how fast it has metamorphosed into more and more virulent stereotypes causing death and misery to thousands of unwary consumers across the world. One of the critical inputs in managing food safety surveillance is the infrastructure and experience needed to monitor these contaminants in time with sufficient reliability. As the Analytical chemistry and electronic instrumentation interfaced with IT are making tremendous advances, the safety enforcement personnel cannot afford to be left behind and will have to be well versed with them. The global food safety lab being promoted for skill upgrade of surveillance personnel through PPP efforts in the US deserves applause. Here are some details about this latest endeavor in the field of analytical pathology .

"The IFSTL ( ) is the world's only permanent food safety lab that provides hands-on lab training on detection methods and classroom lessons on regulatory standards, educating governments and food exporters so they can ensure food is safe before it reaches the table. This will enable food safety standards to rise globally. Food producers across the globe face an increasing challenge to ensure safe food supplies. As global food trade grows to nearly $1 trillion this year, triple what it was just 20 years ago, food safety regulations and technologies are evolving and consumer demand for safe, high-quality food continues to grow. Governments and food manufacturers around the world have sought the training the IFSTL provides, believing it is essential if we are to meet today's food safety challenge. Said Waters® Executive Vice President Art Caputo: "Waters is committed to improving the availability, quality and consistency of food safety testing capacity. We learned from our customers that there is a real need for help and support in understanding the diverse food safety technologies and standards that exist around the globe. Serving as a bridge between governments and industry, Waters approached the FDA and the university with the solution: a powerful public-private partnership that leverages the best expertise and resources to help build trust, collaboration and ensure the safety of our food." As a U.S.-based global company that delivers analytical solutions for governments and name brand companies in 150 countries, Waters understands the challenges that governments around the world face to ensure safe food supplies. The FDA has publicly identified the need for government and private industry to work together. The IFSTL will provide critical support to helping the FDA and foreign food producers meet requirements, such as the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act signed into law earlier this year. Said Michael Landa, Director, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, FDA: "FDA looks forward to this opportunity to build global laboratory capacity. The International Food Safety Training laboratory will help to address food safety challenges world-wide through training and technical assistance." U.S. government scientists from FDA and USDA, along with university experts, will lead intensive trainings focused on detecting both chemical and microbiological contaminants, preparing and testing samples according fit-for-purpose methods that allow scientists to validate and use results to make the right decisions about whether food is safe and meets regulations. Trainees can sign up for courses that address specific issue of concern to the U.S. and global communities. The IFSTL will have the ability to teach 200 professionals per year and will be operated by JIFSAN".

Though one of the partners is a "for profit" organization, its strong expertise and experience cannot be belittled and with the fervor and commitment shown so far the project for global training can be expected to make an impact especially in third world countries where the need is felt to be highest. Though FDA regulations and product specifications mostly apply to domestic US situation, the methodologies and analytical equipment cannot be much different. Of course when products are pre-prepared for analysis, interference from the ingredients can be troublesome and assessing many ethnic food samples with complex composition may need some modification of the methodology for which adequate scope for R & D must be available, if the Global label for this unique Lab is to be justified.


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