Investment in facilities and capabilities is not a one-off, says SGS

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

Picture: SGS
Picture: SGS
Investment in facilities and capabilities is not a one-off as the number of testing parameters in the food sector is huge and increasing every day, according to SGS.

The firm opened a custom-built food testing and analysis laboratory in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam earlier this year.

The laboratory is 1,500 m2​, and employs more than 40 scientists, technicians, managers and administrators.

SGS said it will continue to invest and develop services available from the specialist facility.

Olivier Coppey, executive VP for Agriculture Food and Life, was joined at the opening by Truong Dinh Ho, secretary general, VASEP, Othmar Hardegger, consul general, Consulate General of Switzerland, Dennis Yang, COO, SGS East Asia, and Jason Han, managing director, SGS Vietnam.

Two distinct markets

Thoi Nguyen, agriculture and food manager at SGS Vietnam, said the country has two very distinct food safety markets, domestic and export.

“We offer the full range of testing and analyses for local markets, but our main focus is on the export markets,” ​Nguyen told FoodQualityNews.

Risk group 1: No or low individual and community risk – A microorganism unlikely to cause human or animal disease.

Risk Group 2: Moderate individual risk, low community risk – A pathogen that cause human or animal disease but is unlikely to be a serious hazard to lab workers, the community, livestock or the environment. Lab exposures may cause serious infection, but effective treatment and preventive measures are available and the risk of spread of infection is limited.

Risk Group 3: High individual risk, high community risk – A pathogen that usually causes serious human or animal disease and that can be readily transmitted from one individual to another, directly or indirectly. Effective treatment and preventive measures are not usually available.

Risk Group 4: High individual risk, high community risk – A pathogen that usually causes serious human or animal disease and that can be readily transmitted from one individual to another, directly or indirectly. Effective treatment and preventive measures are not usually available.

“As an international company, SGS has extensive knowledge and expertise in the global food supply chain and the requirements of most destination markets. Our global food testing and safety expertise enables Vietnam’s producers to access international markets.”

Nguyen said of seafood exports, shrimp accounts for more than 50% of export value.

“This means that seafood testing for pathogens and antibiotic residues as well as BAP certification is very important for Vietnam’s aquaculture producers to meet the global standards of their main export customers.

“The US is biggest importer of Vietnamese seafood, followed by the EU, Japan and Korea. Also, compliance with international regulations for pesticide residue MRLs in vegetables and fruit is very important for main export markets such as China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan.”

Growing country demand

The site is Vietnam’s first commercial bio safety level 2 laboratory and will help meet the country’s fast growing demand for analyses, and increase food safety and consumer protection.

It is capable of handling ‘Risk Group 2’ microorganisms so the laboratory has been designed to meet Bio Safety Level 2, as required by the Vietnamese government.

Bio safety Level 2 is designed and provided for work with risk group 1 microorganisms and with large volumes or high concentrations of risk group 2 microorganisms.

SGS established its first food lab in Ho Chi Minh City in 2001 for microbiological and chemical testing.

In 2012 and 2013, capacity and capabilities were expanded in Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry/Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) and Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry/Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS/MS) to help development of new tests focusing on antibiotics, pesticides, mycotoxins and vitamins.

SGS works with clients covering the food supply chain, including the seafood, grains, nuts, cereals, vegetables, honey, milk, dairy, feed, confectionery and beverage sectors.

Across the region it has food testing laboratories in Australia, Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Taiwan and Thailand.

Related topics: Markets, Food safety, South East Asia

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