The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) and Waters (Milford, Massachusetts, USA) have officially opened the first food safety training facility (York, UK), the first of its kind in Europe. Fera is an executive agency of the UK government’s Department for environment, food and rural affairs (Defra).
The public–private partnership was formed to tackle the increased risk posed by food imports into Europe. Exports and imports of food into Europe are currently valued at £690 billion ($1 trillion US) each year. The value of imports into Europe is set to increase rapidly with growing populations, increased urbanization, competition for water and climate change.
Food security is a historical issue – the rising price of bread was one of the triggers for the French Revolution. According to the presentation given by Tim Benton, UK Champion for Global Food Security and a Professor at Leeds University (Leeds, UK) at the opening, a huge 40% of food is wasted each year. He also stated that year on year, the number of localized crop failures because of extreme weather conditions (driven by climate change) is going to become a more common occurrence.
This volatility will lead to greater variability in the value of food and the resourcing of quality food- food safety; authenticity, origin and quality will be under threat according to Benton.
According to Brian Smith, Vice-President of MS Business Operations, Waters, much of the food imported to the EU is from countries with little or no infrastructure for testing food safety to the standards required. A significant number of food safety cases reported each year are associated with imported foodstuffs.
This training facility will provide the opportunity for analysts from outside the EU to be trained in the latest methods and how to use state-of-the-art equipment. The facility has the capacity to provide training for 200 professionals a year. The focus in the first year will be on pesticide residues, veterinary drug residues and mycotoxins.
Fera Chief Executive, Adrian Belton, commented; “We welcome this opportunity to be able to pass on our expertise in food analytical testing. This is underpinned by over 30 years scientific experience in the area, together with detailed knowledge of current and emerging regulations, and internationally recognized quality standards. All of our food analysis work is carried out in modern laboratories by highly trained scientists, using state-of-the-art analytical equipment.”
For more information on the training laboratory, please visit: