Republic of Cyprus
State General Laboratory

Scope




Food


The supply of safe, healthy and quality foodstuffs is very important for the protection of public health. Food safety is constantly confronted with new chalenges and emerging risks (new technologies, trade globalisation, climate change) with consequent reduction in the production of food and increase of adulteration. The EU implements an integrated approach to food safety, which covers the whole chain of production from farm-to-table and involves the development of legislative and other other actions and effective control systems. One of the main targets of the SGL is its contribution to this approach.


For the achievement of the above target, the SGL implements integrated control programmes and has been designated according to legislation [(Κανονισμός (ΕΚ) αριθ. 882/2004 και Νόμος Περί Τροφίμων (Έλεγχος και Πώλησης) του 1996-2010)] as the Official Control Laboratory for chemical, microbiological/ biological analyses of foodstuffs, including bottled and mineral water, the evaluation of the results and the reporting of expert oppinions.


The SGL carries out monitoring and surveillance, as far as possible, to the whole production chain from the field or farm to the consumer's plate. To this effect it develops national control programmes and cooperates with various authorities (Public Health Service, Department of Agriculture, Veterinary Services, Department of Labour Inspection, Municipalities etc). The programmes have a preventive nature and focus on basic foodstuffs which are regularly consumed or which have a specific problem or are consumed by vulnerable population groups especially by children.


The SGL performs evaluation of the results and risk assessment, so as to determine the degree of population exposure. It provides the necessary information to the relevant authorities for taking effective measures including notification of the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF).

Twelve specialised laboratories, with expert personnel and modern equipment, ensure extended and effective control of foodstuffs. The control is carried out based on annual or multi-annual plans for:

    · Food Additives in foodstuffs (Lab 13)
    · Veterinary drug residues in foods of animal origin (Lab 5)
    · Pesticide residues in foods of plant and animal origin and in baby foods (Lab 8)
    · Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) eg PCBs and dioxins (Lab 8)
    · Mycotoxins eg in cereals, nuts and milk (Lab 14)
    · Food contamination with toxic/ carcinogenic substances such as heavy metals, nitrates/nitrites and polyaromatic hydrocarbons, PFOs etc. (Lab 14)
    · Microbiological parameters in foodstuffs (Lab 16)
    · Drinking and bottled water (chemical and microbiological control) (Lab 2, Lab 15)
    · Radionucleodides in food (Lab 9)
    · Food contact materials and various substances which migrate from them including endocrine disruptors (Lab 12)
    · Adulteration and correct labelling of foodstuffs (Lab 1)
    · Authenticity and geographical indication of foods and drinks (Lab 20)
    · Nutritional value of foods and food composition tables (Lab 1)
    · Traditional products (Lab 20)
    · Genetically modified organisms (Lab 21)
    · Food allergens (Lab 21)
    · Custom samples (Lab 17)
    · Food supplements - detection of illegal substances (Lab 19)

The SGL develops new methodologies and specialised, validated chemical and microbiological methods for the above fields.


Furthermore, the SGL has been designated as the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for a large spectrum of food analyses and implements an Integrated Multi-annual Control Plan, which consists of specific surveillance, monitoring and control programmes as well as applied research, focused on:

    · Prevention, investigation and solution of problems in the food chain aiming at long-term food safety.
    · Effetive implementation of the Community acquis.
    · Risk and benefit assessment from food consumption aiming at provision of safe and healthy foods.
    · Analysis and characterisation of traditional or local fooddstuffs, their standardisation and their authenticity.


Targets

    The main target of the SGL in the food sector is to contribute to the provision of safe and healthy foods, ensuring that the consumers are correctly fed and that the dietary intake of various chemical substances (eg additives, contaminants, residues) and microorganisms is kept at safe levels.

      Specific targets are:

        · Development of a national food composition database and estimation of nutritional quality of foodstuffs.
        · Risk assessment of dietary exposure of the population to contaminants, residues and additives, identification of problems, their sources and aetiology and the application of proper corrective and preventive measures.
        · Promotion of food hygiene and verification of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) programmes in the food and tourist industry.
        · Establishment of national and microbiological criteria in foodstuffs.
        · Promotion of health strategies in relation to food.
        · Provision of information for the improvement of agricultural and processing practices towards safer and more competitive foodstuffs.
        · Provision of reliable laboratory data and management information to policy makers and enforcement authorities.
        · Support to consumer information activities.


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