NI gets new food safety centre

Published Tuesday, 08 September 2009
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A new £2m facility which is opening at Queens will screen for contaminated products.

The contents of processed food can come from multiple countries which may not have as stringent standards.

The Centre for Assured, Safe and Traceable Food is being opened at Queen's University Belfast.

Production and processing in Northern Ireland generates £2.4bn in sales and employs 12% of the private sector.

Queen's Professor Chris Elliott said: "As the contents of processed food come from multiple countries which may not have as stringent safety standards as we do there is a risk of them being contaminated and causing a risk to both the consumer and the local food industry.

"Last year's dioxin crisis in the pork industry shows how the failure of just one small piece of equipment and failure to detect this problem quickly can cause multi-million pound losses as well as a loss of trust in the food supply chain."

In China over 50,000 children were hospitalized and deaths reported after the contaminated milk scandal which cost the Chinese economy a reported £5bn loss and major embarrassment.

Mr. Elliott added: "Food is now a true global commodity and we are in competition with the rest of the world.

"We know other places can produce food cheaper, for example Brazil which can offer beef at prices up to 40% lower than we can, but our opportunities lie in producing the safest, highest quality and most traceable food in the world.

"We are using emerging technologies to deliver high-level traceability to detect and predict problems. We want to let local companies know how they can tap in to ASSET's expertise and compete in the global marketplace and would welcome them at this month's event."

© Press Association
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