Food safety and quality
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Laboratory development

© FAO
Laboratory services are an essential component of effective control systems

Food control has evolved from a focus on end-product testing to emphasis on prevention through adequate process controls. Nonetheless laboratory services continue to play the essential role within the overall food control system of finally proving that practices by food producers, suppliers and processors result in safe products for the consumers.

FAO rarely works on laboratory services in isolation, but rather supports the more effective involvement and integration of laboratory services in the national system of food control.

We ultimately aim to ensure that food control laboratories can provide the necessary scientific evidence to better understand the food safety/ quality issues affecting public health and trade and they help solve these problems.

Key features of our approach

Sustainability of Laboratory Services

Our work seeks to ensure sustainability of laboratory services by promoting institutions’ long term approaches that take full consideration of analytical needs as well as of existing national capacities and resources.

Aligning Testing Programmes with Food Safety Priorities

We promote inter-ministerial collaboration and more effective engagement with the private sector to jointly define analytical public health priorities, and to ensure that food producers are provided with the required analytical support to access markets.

Strengthening laboratory management

We work with laboratory managers: to improve the efficiency of their work processes and administrative procedures; to establish and monitor programme targets; to plan for laboratory upgrading including human resource development; and, to communicate more effectively with decision-makers who determine annual budgets for the laboratory services.

Effective training

Our laboratory projects include significant effort aimed at enabling laboratory staff to correctly carry out their functions through a mixture of theoretical and hands-on work. Learning objectives are carefully determined in partnership with the national counterparts and the training approach is tailored to the situation.