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IAEA to Step up Food Safety Work with Equipment Provided by Manufacturer Shimadzu

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Kyoto Japan

At a ceremony today in the Japanese city of Kyoto, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano (right) and Shimadzu Chairman Akira Nakamoto (left) signed a Memorandum of Cooperation in the area of food safety research.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be able to increase its efforts to help countries test for contaminants in food thanks to a donation of sophisticated detection equipment by Japanese manufacturer Shimadzu Corporation.

At a ceremony today in the Japanese city of Kyoto, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and Shimadzu Chairman Akira Nakamoto signed a Memorandum of Cooperation in the area of food safety research. The IAEA will receive the mass spectrometry equipment, together with technical support for method development, under its Peaceful Uses Initiative (PUI).

The donated equipment is an important component of the renovation of the IAEA’s nuclear applications laboratories in Seibersdorf, Austria, in a project called ReNuAL+.   

The IAEA will use the new machine to train scientists from laboratories all over the world in applying state-of-the-art analytical methods to test for contaminants, such as pesticides and veterinary drug residues, in basic food products. It will also support IAEA research on reliable methods to confirm the origin of – and test for adulteration in – food.  

“The Agency supports food safety laboratories in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and Latin America and the demand for these services is growing, so this donation is very welcome,” Director General Amano said.

Food contamination and adulteration can pose a significant danger to public health, and the loss of public confidence in food products can lead to international trade bans and severe economic damage.

While advanced research laboratories have the ability to detect different types of fraud and contamination in food relatively quickly, such capacity is often limited in many countries.

The IAEA helps countries to develop and adopt nuclear and nuclear-related techniques for the control of contaminants in food – also including antibiotics and potentially toxic chemicals – in order to increase countries’ capacity to apply regulations on foodstuffs. 

The donated machine is a liquid chromatograph with triple quadrupole mass spectrometric capabilities (LC-MS/MS). It can test for multiple contaminants in food samples simultaneously, and is a key analytical tool for laboratories concerned with food safety.

“Shimadzu has a philosophy of contributing to society through science and technology, and we wish to contribute to the advancement of global health and well-being by donating to the IAEA the equipment to support research and training in this area,” said Nakamoto. The Japanese company is a manufacturer of scientific, measuring and analytical instruments.

It is the first private sector in-kind contribution of equipment the IAEA has received under the PUI, which was launched in 2010 to mobilize extra-budgetary contributions in support of projects for the peaceful application of nuclear technology, particularly in the areas of health, food and agriculture, water and environment, nuclear safety and nuclear energy.