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International Symposium on Recent Advances in Food Analysis review

The 8th International Symposium on Recent Advances in Food Analysis (RAFA 2017) was held on 7 – 10 November 2017 in Prague, Clarion Congress hotel Prague, Czech Republic. The meeting was organised jointly by the University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague (UCT Prague, Czech Republic) and RIKILT, Wageningen University & Research (The Netherlands).

New Food Magazine were media partners on RAFA's symposium

The symposium confirmed its position among the most visited events focused on food analysis; now it was attended by 750 participants from 51 countries of Europe, Asia, America, Australia and Oceania.

RAFA 2017 has provided an overview of contemporary trends in analytical & bioanalytical strategies in food quality and safety control and enabled discussion on challenges for novel approaches in this field. The following recent & emerging issues have been addressed:

  • Mycotoxins, marine and plant toxins

  • Migrants from food contact materials

  • Processing contaminants

  • Pesticide & veterinary drug residues

  • Industrial contaminants

  • Allergens

  • Metals & metalloids

  • Major nutrients & vitamins

  • Flavour significant compounds

  • QA/QC & Chemometrics & Data interpretation
  • Authenticity & food fraud

  • Omics including Foodomics

  • Food forensics

  • Bioactive compounds

  • Nanoparticles in food

  • Novel foods & supplements

  • Organic crops & foodstuffs

  • Human biomonitoring

  • Smart sensors

 

The conference was opened by a performance of classic Czech music by a famous quitar player Jan Matej Rak, underlining the wealth of culture from the Czech Republic and Prague. Prof. Karel Melzoch (rector of UCT Prague), and Prof. Jana Hajslova (symposium chairwoman) addressed the audience on behalf of UCT Prague, followed by Dr. Robert van Gorcom (director of RIKILT) and Prof. Michel Nielen (symposium co-chair) on behalf of RIKILT and Dr. Pavlina Adam on behalf of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic.

138 oral presentations and 465 posters were presented within the scientific program. In the oral programme, invited leading scientists introduced the main topics that were the subject of individual program blocks covering all the areas mentioned above. As in previous RAFA editions special attention was paid to give a floor to talented young researchers; 25 per cent of all the lectures were given

Symposium chairwoman Prof. Jana Hajslova

 by young scientists (age limit 32 years) and they did a very good job in terms of scientific contents and time management. Abstracts of presented lectue and posters can be found in the RAFA 2017 Book of Abstracts.

In parallel to the main oral sessions a range of satellite events was organized, traditional and new ones, reflecting current trends in food quality and safety assessment:

  • Workshop on “Vibrational spectroscopy and chemometrics for monitoring of food and feed products and contaminants detection”
  • 1st European workshop on human biomonitoring in food quality and safety
  • 2nd European workshop on the analysis of nanoparticles in food, cosmetics and consumer products
  • 4th European AMS workshop on Ambient Mass Spectrometry on food and natural products
  • Tutorial on “Data quality and smart data handling in food analysis”
  • Interactive seminar on Step by step strategies for fast development of smart analytical methods

Food authorities’ presentations provided to RAFA 2017 delegates insight into the research activities in the EU and beyond:

  • Seminar on “Food safety issues beyond the EU: US Perspective”, co-organised by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Workshop on “Food Safety in China: Past, Present and Future”, co-organised by the China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment (CFSA)
  • Workshop on “Achievements of EU Reference Laboratories (EURLs) & International collaboration”
  • European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) information platform on emerging food quality  / safety issues of high concern

In the Smart Lab, provided by EU funded projects FoodIntegrity, FoodSmartphone and PhasmaFood, RAFA delegates had a unique opportunity to test smart analyzers for on-site testing of food quality and safety and learn ‘where the future in food analysis is being made’.

The topics of two poster sessions reflected the main areas of participants´ interests related to the main topics of the conference listed. The majority of the posters presented very high quality innovations and applications and various challenges for further food analytical research were addressed.

A poster jury was established from members of the RAFA scientific committee and sponsors of poster awards, who had enormous task to evaluate all 465 posters with respect to the well-defined criteria. The RAFA 2017 award for the best poster was given to Annie von Eyken (McGill University, Canada) for the poster entitled “Comparison of extraction procedures to explore the fate of nicarbazin residues in eggs after cooking by using a non-targeted analysis workflow”. Apart from this prestigious award, 6 additional poster awards were sponsored by industry and media partners (Waters, Springer, Elsevier and CAMO software).

16 vendor seminars were organized in cooperation with leading companies in the field of advanced food analysis: Axel Semrau, Agilent Technologies, Bruker, Fluid Management Systems, Leco, Phenomenex, R-Biopharm, Restek, SCIEX, Shimadzu, SPEX Europe, ThermoFisher Scientific, Waters. These seminars were focused particularly on recent commercial instrumentation and other analytical and sotware tools and its use for development of analytical strategies for advanced food quality / safety control. Due to the attractive program prepared by vendors, all these seminars were very well attended by the conference participants.

Altogether 41 companies, significant players on the market, sponsored RAFA and were participating in the exhibition, demonstrating both the instrumentation recently used in food analysis and other necessary equipment, i.e. consumables, reference materials, (bio)analytical tools, sample treatment devices etc. Also by the companies RAFA has been recognised as the event and place to be.

12 media partners, including Springer, Elsevier, Food Engineering & Ingredients, FoodQualityNews.com, LCGC Europe, NewFood, SelectScience Ltd, SeparationScience, Technology Networks, Tekno Scienze and The Analytical Scientist contributed significantly to advertising on the RAFA activities.

RAFA is also having a very high reputation for its excellent social program. On this occasion a welcome cocktail was offered in the Clarion Congress hotel Prague for all participants, featuring excellent food, wines and Czech beer. Participants also enjoyed a symposium dinner in one of the oldest and most important Gothic buildings in Prague, the Convent of St Agnes of Bohemia, with the traditional Bohemian menu, Czech wines and special Czech beers. The dinner was accompanied by a magic light show, piano melodies and photo corner to bring nice memories from RAFA, followed by a lottery and the 1st RAFA disco.

Definitely, RAFA 2017 was a great success as highlighted by some of the written testimonials and confimed its position as a leading conference in advances in food analysis: It is probably the conference that has the best matched my research interests among the conferences I’ve been during my PhD…. Top congress, perfect organisation. I have participated 3 times (2013, 2015, 2017) I want to be lucky to come again! Congratulations!… RAFA is wonderful … RAFA is better every time! … Best conference in this kind! … Outstanding organisation and scientific programme! … Really interesting and complete programme for everyone! …

The 9th International Symposium on Recent Advances in Food Analysis (RAFA 2019) is planned to be organised again in Prague, on November 5 – 8, 2019. For further information on the RAFA 2019 keep an eye on the symposium website, www.rafa2019.eu, that should be launched soon!

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