Press Release - RSSL Accepted as a Centre of Expertise as part of the Virtual Food Authenticity Network
RSSL has been recognised as a Centre of Expertise in food authenticity testing by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).
This development comes after DEFRA established its Virtual Food Authenticity Network project in line with the Elliott recommendations following on from the horsemeat scandal of 2013. The network is overseen by DEFRA’s Authenticity Steering Group which comprises of industry members including Barbara Hirst, Food Safety and Quality Consultant at RSSL.
During the crisis, RSSL played a key role in advising and assisting the food industry with rapid testing of meat supplies, using DNA techniques to establish the authenticity, or otherwise, of beef and other meat samples. RSSL's other areas of expertise in authenticity include species identification of meats (>20 species), dairy and fish (>50 species); expertise in oils and fats authenticity; expertise in botanical identification by microscopy, and in specific areas such as coffee, GMO, free-from authenticity and marker compound identification for other food materials.
In a letter from DEFRA, dated October 26th 2015, RSSL is acknowledged as fulfilling "the recommended criteria for Centres of Expertise as endorsed by the Analytical Methods Working Group". The evaluation of organisations wishing to become Centres of Expertise was carried out by an independent Authenticity Methods Working Group (AMWG). RSSL will now be included on the web portal foodauthenticity.uk, which DEFRA intends to upload during November 2015.
The Laboratory of the Government Chemist (LGC) has been appointed to act as the coordinator for the Virtual Food Authenticity Network and have set up an independent management committee to oversee its work and direction. Barbara has also been selected to be a member of this committee.
Barbara said ‘I am delighted to be invited to join the management committee and be recognised as a link between the complex science of authenticity testing and the reality of translating the science into the implications for technical managers in the food industry’