Food and Environment Research Agency - Articles and news items
Issue 2 2014 • 1 May 2014 • Stewart Reynolds Senior Scientist, Food Quality and Safety Programme, Food and Environment Research Agency
Information about pesticide residues in the food we produce, import, sell and consume is important to anyone involved in the food industry and to us all as consumers of food. Each year throughout the European Union, around 100,000 samples of food are collected and tested for pesticide residues. This is an extensive programme of work involving 30 European countries (the 28 Member States, plus Norway and Iceland as EFTA countries), around 275 official national laboratories, which include 52 national reference laboratories, and a considerable expenditure. As someone who has been involved in testing food for pesticide residues for over 30 years, it is interesting to review how controls are organised today and how the changes have improved public access to increased amounts of information on this subject.
For many years, NMR spectroscopy was largely overlooked by the food industry. Maybe this was understandable. The instruments were expensive, the skills required to operate them could at best be described as specialist and there wasn’t a broad understanding of the way in which the technology could be applied within the industry. I joined the Food Science Group at Fera (then the Central Science Laboratory) in 1999. NMR spectroscopy was mainly used for measuring isotopes to check the authenticity of wines and fruit juice, whilst an archaic bench top contraption was used for fat and water measurements.
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