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"Safety is an illusion without certainty" - Attila Nagy chairs CCMAS


As the Codex Committee on Methods of Analysis and Sampling (CCMAS) begins in Budapest, we spoke to Attila Nagy who takes over as Chairperson at this session. A veterinarian and microbiologist, in November 2018 Attila was appointed Director of the newly established Food Chain Safety Laboratory Directorate in Hungary.

Attila, thanks for your time. You were born just two years after Hungary started hosting CCMAS. What, in your view, are the three major changes in analytical methods that have taken place over the last 45 years?

Of course the most important change is the development of the technical background. Technological development has made it possible to better understand the safety of food and the value of food which is the quality. In the case of measurements, the reliability, the quality assurance and their oversight: the accreditation is increasingly important.

And beside measurements?

In addition to the development of measurements, there is a growing need for reliable, fast screening tests that can answer laboratory questions cheaply, quickly and easily.

How does the work of CCMAS protect consumer health? Where is it most important?

All laboratory work helps to protect consumer interests. The most important interest is health, of course. We have many methods for food safety such as heavy metals, allergens, vitamins and so on. CCMAS has to endorse methods for sampling and analysis which are fit for purpose, so can use these to measure samples with accuracy, in an exact way to get true results.

What do you see as highlights or key issues on the agenda this year?

We have many issues which are in the middle of long-term discussion. Some of them are closer to consensus, like new structure of STAN234, on others we have more work to do, like the revision of the Sampling Guideline. During this work we have lot of general questions related to typing of methods, guidance of endorsement or connection between measurement uncertainty and conformity assessment and sampling.

What special role do observer organizations play in CCMAS?

Standards development organisations (SDOs) have a great knowledge of standards, they have developed and validated these. That’s why we had and have to work together with full transparency and trust from both “sides”. The Inter Agency Meeting is very special part of the work in CCMAS and a very great opportunity to meet many expert organizations in a room. During the plenary we can ask SDOs in a direct and very informative way to verify questions related to methods.

What would you say to a first-time delegate?

Enjoy the work. Join many eWGs, ask experts for help and use the CCMAS documentation as a catalogue for valid and perfect methods for lab work.

The slogan for the first World Food Safety Day is “Food Safety, Everyone’s Responsibility”. What would be a message for World Food Safety Day from CCMAS?

“Safety is an illusion without certainty. And you need to measure for certainty.”


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Follow the meeting agenda online.