Reliable measurements underpinned by accurate measurement standards (i.e. certified reference materials) are indispensable for the verification that products and services comply with the legislation that exists to protect the consumer and our environment. Accurate measurements are vital to support trade and industry, ensuring food safety, appropriate healthcare, forensic analysis, manufacturing and environmental monitoring. The cost of measurements often forms a significant part of these sector budgets. Measurement costs are offset by the economic impact of important decisions made daily based on measurement results.
To confidently provide accurate, reliable and comparable measurement results, analytical testing laboratories are required to use various measurement standards, known as reference materials (RMs), for: quality control, accuracy assessment, to establish measurement traceability and to demonstrate continued laboratory competence (RMs used in PTs). Use of these materials is prescribed in the ISO 17025 standard for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories.
Analytical laboratories in Africa are faced with limited funding, infrastructure and skilled human resources to maintain a sustainable testing environment. When training projects end, quite often, so does the funding. The need for more cost-effective methods of analysis has been repeatedly identified. Accessibility to relevant PT schemes, certified calibration and matrix RMs are limited and costly, but critically needed to ensure comparability of alternative measurement systems/testing protocols.
To address the growing demand for matrix reference materials, NMISA launched the African Food and Feed Reference Material Programme (AFFRMP) in 2015, dedicated to providing measurement support to Food and Feed testing laboratories through the provision of fit-for-purpose Africa-relevant measurement standards such as Certified Reference Materials, Reference materials for Quality Control and Proficiency Testing Schemes and high purity organic calibrators.
The reference material programme, which included the establishment of a RM production facility completed in 2018, will enable trade in support of growth strategies and trade agreements by providing Africa-relevant measurement standards (reference materials) with known quantities and characterised property values to support the accuracy and reliability of measurement results. The facility can now accommodate the production and storage of materials in support of diverse sectors including health, forensics, environmental monitoring, metals beneficiation and nanotechnologies.
This programme also provides NMISA with the unique opportunity to contribute to the achievement of several South African National Development Goals for 2030 including: empowering young scientists through training in scarce analytical skills and supporting increased intra-regional trade in Africa through reliable measurements in the agricultural and mining export sectors.
Learn more about our PT schemes, Reference Materials and
on-line store. Read more about how NMISA supports the Food and Feed Industry