SINGAPORE: The Agri-Food Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) has added a new line of defence to its food screening system.
'non-targeted' approach, which utilises High Resolution Mass
Spectrometry (HRMS) Technology, this form of food safety screening will
allow the detection of contaminants that are not usually targeted in
screenings and complements already existing modes of screening.
screening on top of the traditional 'targeted' approach where the
machines are calibrated to detect usual suspects and in the process,
possibly ignore abnormalities.
The 'non-targeted' form of
screening is usually carried out on inherently high-risk foods such as
meat, ready-to-eat food and cultured seafood, or food deemed high-risk
due to consumers who are potentially more sensitive to contaminants,
such as baby-milk powder and baby food.
Facilities for this new technology has been in the pipeline since 2010 and over the past two years.
has been acquiring the technology, built a database of about 11,000
compounds, and developing and fine-tuning its analytical procedures.
is among the few countries that are exploring HRMS technology. Other
laboratories which are adopting similar approaches are mostly in Japan,
the European Union, and the United States.
technologies and innovations to enhance food safety are being shared by
scientists and researchers at the 6th Asian Conference on Food and
Speaking at the conference, Senior
Parliamentary Secretary for National Development Maliki Osman elaborated
on the importance of food safety.
Dr Maliki Osman said: "With
easy access to information via the internet and other social media
platforms, our consumers are now more aware of health issues and
possible health risks from food. I believe that greater consumer
awareness is a good thing, but we should be cautious of sensational or
inaccurate reports which could undermine consumer confidence in food
Dr Ch'ng Ai Lee, Deputy Director of Laboratories
Department, Veterinary Public Health Lab, said: "Previously, our
approach is to look at known food-borne hazards. So anything that is
unusual, just like melamine, we will not be looking for. But with the
new approach we are looking for everything that could be there. So we
should not miss items like melamine anymore."