A new institute for food safety will start work in the Netherlands beginning in June.

Wageningen Food Safety Research (WFSR) is a merger of RIKILT Wageningen University and Research and the Laboratory for Feed and Food Safety of the Netherlands Food and the Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA).

With the merger of the two organizations, officially signed this week, the Netherlands will have a knowledge institute for food and feed safety and food fraud that is part of Wageningen University and Research. Currently, both groups are conducting tasks related to research and lab work for safe food and animal feed.

Currently, RIKILT has 230 employees and the Laboratory for Food and Feed Safety has 130 staff, which are located in the same building and have already worked closely together.

The WFSR will act as a resource during incidents and crises that affect the NVWA, the ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (MZS) and during environmental, poisoning and food contamination incidents.

It will carry out lab work for the NVWA and the Dutch central government and be an international and European reference laboratory. The largest client is the government and no work will be carried out for private companies or Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs) unless it has a clear added value for food safety in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands authority recently revealed in an annual plan that devotes more than half of its resources to food safety this year. Food for medical use, baby food, novel food, nutritional supplements and items with nutrition and health claims are to receive increased attention.

RIKILT is the Dutch National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for monitoring residues and contaminants in food and feed. It is the European Union Reference Laboratory (EURL) for analysis of products from food-producing animals for hormonal growth promoting compounds, sedatives and mycotoxins.

The merger was effected after a process which involved a political decision in June 2018 that was confirmed in a letter to parliament by the ministers of LNV and MZS.

This letter stated the NVWA lab was focused on sample analyzes and, given its size, was unable to make the most of innovations and had insufficient capacity to respond flexibly to incidents and crises.

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