A NEW international food safety training centre is to be launched today at The Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera) at Sand Hutton, near York.

The Government agency has teamed up with analytical equipment manufacturer Waters to launch the laboratory, which aims to improve compliance with European Union food standards.

The Fera International Food Safety Training Laboratory (Fera IFSTL) will primarily train scientists concerned with exporting foods to Europe.

Experts from Fera will also train analysts from overseas in using the technology and equipment for determining chemical contaminants and residues in food, enabling other countries to implement their own solutions and start trading with Europe.

Lord de Mauley, parliamentary under-secretary of state for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), was set to open the new laboratory.

He said: “It’s very encouraging to see the public and private sectors working together to facilitate trade from outside the EU.

“This will improve food safety testing for food imported into the EU, ensuring food is safe before it reaches our tables.”

Adrian Belton, chief executive of Fera, said a significant proportion of food safety incidents reported in the EU were due to imports, and exports and imports of foodstuffs in the EU exceeds £690 billion.

He said: “We welcome this opportunity to be able to pass on our expertise in food analytical testing.

“This is underpinned by over 30 years scientific experience in the area, together with detailed knowledge of current and emerging regulations, and internationally recognised quality standards.

“All of our food analysis work is carried out in modern laboratories by highly trained scientists, using state-of-the-art analytical equipment.”

The dedicated training facility, which is currently run by existing Fera staff and invited speakers, has the capacity to teach 200 professionals per year and will begin training courses on pesticide residues, veterinary drug residues and moulds in February.