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As anyone involved in the field of analytical chemistry can tell you, food safety is a topic that is garnering more and more attention, not only in separations laboratories and in technical sessions at conferences and symposia around the world, but in the most telling place of all: the mainstream media.
As anyone involved in the field of analytical chemistry can tell you, food safety is a topic that is garnering more and more attention, not only in separations laboratories and in technical sessions at conferences and symposia around the world, but in the most telling place of all: the mainstream media. After the massive backlash brought about by the recent dog food, baby food, and peanut butter scares (among others), there has been a demand for immediate action on the part of government institutions and manufacturers. Listening to one of the presentations at the plenary session of last month's IFPAC Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, delivered by Dr. Glenn Black, Director of Science Operations of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the full impact that this crisis has had on the marketplace, and the field of chromatography specifically, became clear.
Whereas the debate and the research in this area has largely revolved around the term "food safety" to this point, there seemed to be an escalation in this case, at least in the urgency of the terminology used. Dr. Black referred to "food defense" in his presentation, and talked about defending the food chain at every point in the process. This may signal a significant change in the collective mindset with regard to food safety, indicating a move to a more aggressive posture with regard to preventing future contaminations and poisonings. The public's tolerance for food safety crises such as those noted above is becoming lower and lower, so this more aggressive stance is a wise one to say the least. It will be interesting to see how this issue continues to unfold, but in the meantime, one has only to look through the pages of LCGC to see how important this topic has become in the research community. In a fairly short amount of time, food safety research articles have begun to proliferate, with food analysis appearing in an excellent research article in the February issue ("Multiple Dimensions of Separations: SPME with GC×GC and GC×GC–TOF-MS," by N.H. Snow, J. Sinex, and M. Danser), and in an insightful column by Mike Swartz in the January issue ("HPLC: Continuing to Answer Challenges to Food and Drug Safety").
We will certainly continue to keep an eye out for additional research in this area, and as always, you can rest assured that LCGC will continue to cover cutting-edge topics like this and others.
We hope you enjoy the issue.