Completed joint project of the Icelandic authorities for food safety and German institutions with the participation of the BfR.
Food businesses that participate in the global food trade must ensure that their food products are safe and competent authorities must implement food safety measures according to international standard in order to ensure consumer protection.
A bilateral project between Germany and Iceland that is now coming to an end has contributed to the strengthening of food safety in Iceland. This bilateral project has been carried out in collaboration between the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and Lower Saxony State Office for Consumer Protection & Food Safety (LAVES) from the German side and the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST), Matís and the Ministry of Industries and Innovations from the Icelandic side.
As mentioned above the project was supported by the relevant ministries in Iceland and Germany. The Icelandic Government ensured the necessary funds for improving the laboratory capacity at Matís and German Authorities ensured funds for participation of German experts in training activities at the laboratory level and for inspectors at the central and local level in Iceland.
“Our goal was to provide both institutional and laboratory capacity building to ensure that Iceland has the necessary infrastructure to ensure food safety and protect consumer interests in the increasingly globalized food market,” said the President of BfR, Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel, and LAVES , Professor Dr. Eberhard Haunhorst, at the final project meeting on 26 June 2014. “This collaboration project has contributed significantly to the strengthening of laboratory capacity in Iceland, which will enable us to conform to European standards and facilitate the global trade of Icelandic food products” said Dr. Sveinn Margeirsson, Chief Executive Officer of Matís. “Thanks to the close cooperation between the Icelandic competent authorities and the German partners we now have enhanced legislative, technical and administrative knowledge regarding official controls in order to ensure consumer protection” added Director of the Office for Food safety and Consumer protection at MAST, Mr. Sigurður Örn Hansson.
Dr. Helga Gunnlaugsdóttir, research group leader at Matís, dr. Roland Gerhard Körber, Safe Food project employee, Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, minister at the ministry of Industries and Innovation, dr. Hrönn Ólína Jörundsdóttir, project manager at Matís, Thomas Hermann Meister, Germany’s ambassador in Iceland, dr. dr. Andreas Hensel, president of BfR, dr. Eberhard Haunhors president of Laves and Margrét Björk Sigurðardóttir, from MAST.
The main priorities of the bilateral project were to improve and implement the analysis of pesticide residues, food contaminants such as PCBs as well as the detection of genetically modified food and feed. Another important aspect was the establishment of modern analytical methods for detecting marine biotoxins in shellfish. To achieve this goal, new state of the art laboratory equipment for chemical analysis has now been installed at Matís and the relevant staff has been trained on site to carry out official analytical methods according to EU standards. A number of experts from the German partner institutions supported this comprehensive training.
Another focus has been to develop methods of food monitoring in collaboration with the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority. These included support from German experts regarding risk assessment and risk management in official controls, for both the central monitoring authorities (MAST) and the ten independent local authorities, responsible for controls at the retail level. The program also included internships and training professionals from the Icelandic surveillance authorities in Germany. This part of the project was under the responsibility of the Lower Saxony State Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety and was carried out by pursuing a practical approach, in which the Icelandic visiting scientist were working on location in the field in Germany.
For more information please contact Helga Gunnlaugsdóttir at Matís or Margrét Björk Sigurðardóttir at MAST/www.mast.is.