South Africa’s metrology institute reports successful food safety conference

14th June 2018 By: Rebecca Campbell - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

The National Metrology Institute of South Africa (NMISA) announced earlier this week that it had held its first Africa Food Safety Workshop during the first week of this month, in Pretoria. The event was attended by delegates from South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world. They represented academia, analytical regulatory food testing laboratories, governmental and non-governmental food programmes, and metrology institutes.

The purpose of the encounter was to exchange ideas, provide training, and develop a strategy for the continent to establish food and animal feed monitoring and testing to international standards. This would both protect consumers from unsafe products and protect exports.

There were presentations and debates on the methods and standards for analysis and control of various infections and contaminants, including mycotoxins, pesticide residues, and veterinary drugs. Also covered were food authenticity and traceability, food microbiology, the use of antimicrobials and the problem of resistance.

During a discussion on the Listeriosis outbreak in South Africa earlier this year, South African Association for Food Scientists and Technologists President Dr Lucia Anelich observed that food safety was a “factual concern” and should be prioritised by the government. Singapore Agri Food and Veterinary Authority representative Dr Shen Ping pointed out that “food safety is not solely a government responsibility, it requires collaboration.”

Outcomes achieved by the workshop included the creation and augmentation of food safety stakeholder networks, as well as mechanisms to strengthen food safety control systems in Africa. Concluding the event, NMISA CEO Ndwakhulu Mukhufhi called for cooperation between African public and private sector institutions, with the aim of increasing food safety awareness and protecting society.

The NMISA is one of the Technical Infrastructure (TI) Institutes within the Department of Trade and Industry. These TI Institutes are, together, responsible for measurement standards, procedures, regulations and sciences. They also act as accreditation bodies.