As consumers, two thoughts will cross our minds on a daily basis:
- Did we get what we paid for?
- Is it safe?
When it comes to the food we eat, we need to be confident that it is authentic, nutritious and safe. Regrettably, recent scandals such as melamine in milk, aflatoxins in dog food, Sudan red in spices, cadmium in our pineapples, the “donkey-and-not-beef” issue and plasticizers in sports drinks have all shown how mistaken we can be.
Consumer confidence comes from knowing that testing laboratories are competently and accurately testing the nutritional and contaminant content of our food and feed at regulated levels and that these measurement results are reliable and internationally comparable.
Accreditation to ISO 17025 Guide for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories allows for the demonstration of competence as evidenced through regular participation in relevant proficiency testing schemes; the use of validated methods; establishing measurement traceability and reporting measurement uncertainty. Part of the validation process involves the use of a certified matrix reference material to verify the accuracy of the measurement result obtained using the analytical procedure. Additionally, a lab must demonstrate continued method performance through participation in relevant proficiency testing schemes for the target analytes in specific matrices and appropriate use of quality control materials. Poor access and limited availability of the relevant reference material and PT scheme has often prevented laboratories from demonstrating the necessary competence of their measurement results and achieving the coveted ISO 17025 accreditation.
The NMISA is launching a Food and Feed Reference Material Programme dedicated to providing measurement support to Food and Feed testing laboratories through the provision of Certified Reference Materials, Reference measurements and Reference materials for Quality Control and Proficiency Testing Scheme purposes. Some of the areas NMISA is currently working on include:
- Heavy metals
- Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons
- Phthalates in PVC
- Fatty acid Methyl Esters for Meat profiling
- Veterinary drug residues
- Amino acids for protein quality determination
- Water Activity measurements
Please visit our site for regular updates on the programme.