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UK and Korean scientists forge links for food safety

9 November 2010

The Institute of Food Research, an institute of BBSRC, recently took part in a workshop, hosted by LGC, the UK's designated National Measurement Institute for chemical and biochemical analysis, that brought together UK and Korean experts to discuss current issues and challenges in the area of food safety.

The meeting, held on 5-6 October at LGC's headquarters in Teddington, South West London, was a continuation of the Foreign Office-sponsored UK-Korea Focal Point Project on Food Safety and the BIS Science & Innovation Unit sponsored Global Partnership Project. The Focal Point work links two top National Measurement Institutes (NMIs): LGC in the UK and KRISS (Korean Research Institute of Standards in Science) in Korea to foster advanced scientific co-operation. The Global Partnership work is spearheaded by Campden BRI and the Korean Food Research Institute bringing the strengths of two highly respected applied and fundamental food research institutes together.

The purpose of this workshop was to bring together UK and Korean experts from industry, food research organisations, regulators and academia to discuss issues, challenges and research strengths and requirements in the critical areas of food safety, control and rapid detection of pathogens and contaminants, with a particular emphasis on the challenges of the emerging and 'unknown'. How do we 'horizon scan'? How do we anticipate/prepare for the next incident? What new detection/measurement technologies should we be considering?

The UK and Korea are major food importers and have many common food control issues. Professor Tim Brocklehurst, Head of the International Office at the Institute of Food Research was among a group of 24 experts from LGC, the National Measurement Office, Campden BRI, Heinz, Princes Foods, Kingston University and the Food Standards Agency, who joined Korean experts for wide ranging discussions aimed to ensure that the benefits of fundamental measurement research reflect real-life problems.
The Korean delegation was led by Dr Hun-Young So, Head of the Metrology for Quality of Life Division of the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science (KRISS) who brought a multidisciplinary team including his own staff, Professor Jong-Hyun Park of the Department of Food Science & Biotechnology, Kyungwon University and Dr Hyang Sook Chun of the Korean Food Research Institute.

Cutting-edge developments in areas such as mass spectrometry, metagenomics and expert systems were explored to provide potential solutions to problems facing regulators and the food industry in protecting consumers.

The meeting's participants decided on the following priority themes:

  • Better informatics tools and information sharing to horizon scan for emerging and re-emerging problems
  • Development of high throughput methods to screen efficiently for hazards
  • The need for guidance to future-proof regulatory and compliance infrastructure to manage risks

Specific areas for future cooperation were identified as:

  • Specific protein and large molecule characterisation
  • Rapid and information-rich methods for detection and identification of viable viruses and other micro-organisms
  • Methods for characterisation of engineered nanoparticles
  • Methods for elemental speciation
  • Facilitating a UK and global culture of analytical quality for food industry compliance and fit for purpose regulatory models.

Derek Craston, Director of LGC's Science & Technology Division and Government Chemist, said: "Tackling food safety needs a global approach that optimises partnership between fundamental research and industry practice. We were please to welcome such a high level delegation from Korea and the key input from UK stakeholders."

Scientific co-operation, information sharing and further seminars and other activities are planned.

ENDS

Notes to editors

For further information contact: Deborah Gaskell, Group Communications Manager, LGC, email: mailto:deborah.gaskell@lgc.co.uk, direct tel: +44(0)20 8943 7563.

The UK - Korea Focal Point Project on Food Safety is an activity sponsored by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Department for Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (S&T) Development to facilitate International science and technology co-operation. The aim is to catalyse co-operation and partnership between the research and measurement communities of the UK and Korea to address shared issues thus ensuring the security and safety of the food supply chains in our respective geographies. This is achieved through networking activities, secondment and people exchange and joint research projects. The Food Safety Focal Point Project is managed jointly by LGC and the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science (KRISS).

About LGC

LGC (www.lgc.co.uk) is an international science-based company and market leader in analytical, forensic and diagnostic services and reference standards. A progressive and innovative enterprise, LGC operates in socially responsible fields underpinning the safety, health and security of the public and the regulation of industry, for UK government departments and blue chip clients.

LGC operates internationally through four divisions - LGC Forensics, LGC Genomics, LGC Standards and LGC Science & Technology, which includes specialist laboratories delivering contracts for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and supporting LGC's designated role as the UK's National Measurement Institute for chemical and bioanalytical measurement.

Our operations are extensively accredited to international quality standards such as ISO 17025. With headquarters in Teddington, South West London, the LGC Group employs 1,400 staff in 27 laboratories and centres across Europe and at sites in India and China. Privatised in 1996 and now majority-owned by funds managed by Bridgepoint, LGC was founded almost 170 years ago as the Laboratory of the Government Chemist - a statutory function maintained by LGC today.

About KRISS

The Korean Research Institute of Standards and Science (KRISS) (www.kriss.re.kr/2006/english/) is the national metrology institute (NMI) of Korea. In this role, KRISS establishes, improves, and disseminates national measurement standards. Additionally, KRISS conducts research and development activities related to standards and metrology.
KRISS is the official member to the General Council on Weights and Measures (CGPM) and the Asia Pacific Metrology Program (APMP).

About BBSRC

BBSRC is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £470M in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life in the UK and beyond and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders, including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.

BBSRC provides institute strategic research grants to the following:

  • The Babraham Institute
  • Institute for Animal Health
  • Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (Aberystwyth University)
  • Institute of Food Research
  • John Innes Centre
  • The Genome Analysis Centre
  • The Roslin Institute (University of Edinburgh)
  • Rothamsted Research

The Institutes conduct long-term, mission-oriented research using specialist facilities. They have strong interactions with industry, Government departments and other end-users of their research.