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BIPM to work with NIM and NMISA to build metrology capacity for Safe Food and Feed in Developing Economies

Ensuring the safety of food is a major focus at the international and national level. The issue of food safety and trade is a major concern for countries with developing metrology and quality assurance systems. Both microbiological and chemical hazards are of concern, including the contamination of food and feed by mycotoxins (toxic metabolites of fungi), which are significant sources of food-borne illnesses. The knowledge that mycotoxins can have serious effects on humans and animals has led many countries to establish regulations on mycotoxins in food and feed over the last few decades to safeguard the health of humans, as well as the economic interests of producers and traders. Over 100 countries have implemented specific regulatory limits for mycotoxins in food and feedstuffs, and these limits need to be supported by a sound measurement infrastructure for mycotoxin analysis in order to enforce and verify products, protect populations and avoid technical barriers to trade in food stuffs.

Regional needs for certified reference materials to support mycotoxin in food analysis have been identified within the Regional Metrology Organizations. AFRIMETS, for example, has reported requirements which include:

  1. readily available and affordable calibrants
  2. readily available, affordable and relevant food matrix Certified Reference Materials (CRMs)

In addition, AFRIMETS wishes to establish a training programme for scientists in mycotoxin analysis, as well as Visiting Scientist Exchange Programmes with National Metrology Institutes (NMIs) in other regions that are also developing programmes on mycoxtoxin calibrants and matrix CRMs.

In response to these requirements, the BIPM, NMISA (South Africa) and NIM (China) have started a project as part of the BIPM's Capacity Building and Knowledge Transfer Programme aimed to address these needs at national and regional levels. The agreements to start the programme were signed between the BIPM Director, Dr Martin Milton, and the CEO of NMISA, Mr Ndwakhulu Mukhufhi, and the Director of NIM, Mr Fang Xiang, at the recent APMP meetings held at NIM, China.

The programme is open to National Metrology Institutes and Designated Institutes from developing economies which are Member States of the BIPM or Associates of the General Conference, and includes participation in the visiting scientist programme at the BIPM. Further details on participation and eligibility criteria can be found on the BIPM CB&KT web pages. The programme is planned to start in May 2016.

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