Government Chemist training for official control scientists
20 May 2013
20 May 2013 -
Between 29 April and 3 May, the Government Chemist programme organised, on behalf of the APA Educational Trust, the annual week-long residential course, ‘Analysis and Examination of Foods’, held at the University of Reading.
The course was designed as an intensive series of lectures, laboratory practical sessions and interactive exercises covering food analysis, along with animal feed analysis and fertilisers.
The Food Standards Agency
(FSA) was the key sponsor and it was aimed primarily at staff of Public Analyst and Agricultural Analyst labs, although it is also open to commercial laboratories.
The course proved to be excellent training for staff in enforcement analysis and essential preparation for those intending to sit for the highly prized qualification Mastership in Chemical Analysis (MChemA), administered by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).
The MChemA is the statutory qualification required to practice as a Public Analyst – and was affirmed in the recently-revised Food Safety (Sampling & Qualifications) Regulations 2013.
LGC fielded experts in Pesticides analysis (Andrew Wyeth), DNA (Dr Malcolm Burns) and Food Allergy (Michael Walker).
FSA was represented by an expert in Food Additives, Dr Stephen Johnson, and colleagues from Dept Health and Defra spoke on Health Claims and the new Food Information Regulation respectively. RSC provided input on the MChemA exam itself. The importance of reporting results and scientific opinion in a forensic context was extensively covered in talks and interactive exercises.
Delegates were also very active in laboratory practical sessions on mycology and microscopy – both topics essential to dealing with unknown foreign objects that frequently present for identification to practising Public Analysts. The complex area of high value meat and fish QUID verification with (very topically) meat speciation and veterinary residues analysis was discussed and delegates were required to present on their own areas of specialism and interest – attracting talks as diverse as multi-mycotoxin residues by LC-MS/MS, dioxin analysis and the recent and ongoing horsemeat issue.
Michael Walker, who organised the course, said, “The Reading course is the main event of the Government Chemist official lab training programme each year. This year attendees included 12 staff from Public Analyst labs and one delegate from a commercial lab - who all attended for the full week - and an LGC delegate who attended for one day. The feedback we received shows that each of the 14 delegates considered the course ‘very effectively met their needs’ and look forward to part 2 of the course that will run next April, covering topics not addressed this year. This is, of course, excellent to hear. We also run one-day seminars, e.g. on LC-MS/MS, webinars, and our upcoming programme includes a free webinar on ‘Food Allergen Management - an introduction, on 13 June 2013. Our next one day seminar is an interactive exercise on ‘the Role of the Expert Witness’ look out for further details soon.”
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