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Trainee public analysts attend food examination training

Scientists training for the MChemA gain key skills in food analysis during a Government Chemist training course held last week.

Scientists from UK public analyst laboratories learnt practical analytical skills and heard from experts in the field of food analysis during an intensive week-long residential course organised under the Government Chemist programme.

The course was held from 20-24 April at the University of Reading. It is the only dedicated formal teaching available to scientists studying for the Mastership in Chemical Analysis, the statutory qualification required to practice as a public analyst.

It included practical laboratory sessions on mycology, an interactive session on providing evidence as an expert witness, and lectures on a range of topics including the regulation of pesticides in food and several sessions covering food authenticity and fraud.

Microscopy is a key technique for public analysts, especially in the scientific detective work needed to identify foreign matter in food following complaints. The scientists attended class-based sessions where they were talked through the forensically exacting microscopy work required before they put this theory to the test in practical classes dealing with botanical specimens.

Michael Walker, consultant referee analyst for the Government Chemist programme, organised the training course on behalf of the Association of Public Analysts Educational Trust. The course featured sessions hosted by practicing public analysts and guest lecturers from organisations including Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs.

The Food Standards Agency was the main sponsor of the event, with Defra and the Analytical Chemistry Trust Fund also providing financial support. The event was organised by the Government Chemist Programme, which is housed within LGC and funded by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.

For more information on the course, visit the Government Chemist blog.