Experts needed on food

National, Normal

The National, Thursday 23rd August, 2012

HAVING well-equipped laboratories and trained specialists to man them is a requirement to meet international food safety standards, especially when testing food for export, an expert says.
National Agricultural Quarantine Inspection Authority’s animal health and food testing laboratory manager Dr Peter Wai’in said the country’s two main laboratories at Kilakila, Port Moresby, had yet to be internationally accredited.
Wai’in said another requirement for laboratories to be internationally accredited was having certified reference materials.
He said reference materials were standards for positive or negative control used in testing.
He said reference materials were expensive to obtain, especially for food, as there were hundreds of them.
Wai’in said an example was that for salmonella, reference materials for which cost US$250 (K530) and lasted for up to five years.
He said retaining specialists in the organisation was a challenge when private firms offer attractive packages.
He said the NAQIA laboratory had started the accreditation process in 2009 and was still waiting for checks to be done by auditors from Australia.
EDES regional coordinator Antoine Kabwit Nguz advised the National Agriculture Research Institute laboratory manager Dr Peter Corbett and Wai’in to prioritise when buying equipment to carry out tests as they were expensive.
“You have to be economical.
“There is no use buying an equipment that costs thousands of kina and does fewer than 10 tests per year,” he said.