FSA Board to consider a Vision for Food and Feed Laboratories
The Food Standards Agency Board is to consider a report on a recent review at its meeting in Belfast on Wednesday. The Paper acknowledges that the Agency “is responsible for ensuring the UK has sufficient laboratory capacity and capability to deliver official controls on feed and food safety and standards”. The Board is asked to endorse the evidence-based vision for a future, more integrated and sustainable UK official food and feed laboratory system and provide strategic direction on the proposed approach to address the key issues identified and move towards implementation of a new UK official food and feed laboratory system.
Summary Reports of the two phase review are available on the FSA website. Since the review was announced in December 2017 Public Analyst Laboratories in Stafford and Leeds have closed and the closure of the Worcestershire lab has been announced. These labs were/is a part of the Association of Local Authority Public Analyst Laboratories (ALAPAL) network referred to the in the December paper
Food Safety News covered the news under the headline “Chemical analysis gaps found in UK lab review” and noted that “Areas where there was limited or no capability included determining concentrations of all regulated plant toxins in feed and food samples; testing needed to show compliance with regulations on materials and articles in contact with food; concentrations of halogenated Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in feed and food; glycidyl fatty esters; some feed additives; some authenticity tests and GM testing.” The Worcester lab is the only UK laboratory accredited for screening Chinese rice for the presence of genetically modified organisms.
Ernst & Young, responsible for the second part of the review “identified six areas where improvements could be made to address risks in the current system. These were strategy and accountability, funding, organization of labs, public analysts’ appointment, public analysts’ qualification, and food sampling.”
The Association has sought assurances from the Board that it acknowledges the key role that Public Analysts have in ensuring the delivery of robust food and feed controls and that any changes to the MChemA qualification or the appointment process will not result in a reduction in the competencies of individuals acting in the role of Public Analysts.