Masters course seeks future leaders in fighting food fraud

Tackling food fraud has been given an academic boost with the announcement of a new distance-learning Masters qualification in food safety.

The post-graduate qualification is the result of a partnership between the Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) at Queen's University Belfast and multinational analytical laboratory instrument and software company Waters Corporation.

The partnership, which aims to promote food safety at a global level and highlights how the discipline is becoming more mainstream, will see Waters Corp sponsor professionals in the food industry to undertake the flexible online and part time course.

The joint initiative seeks to increase the capacity of food safety professionals to ensure and deliver safe, sustainable and authentic food to the world's growing populations, which is becoming an increasing concern and burden on the increasingly complex food supply chain.

"Food safety is a global challenge and this course offers professionals the chance to learn remotely on a part-time basis from renowned experts to increase their knowledge of the threats to feed and food compromising food security, and also about the techniques and methods which can be used to confirm food safety and integrity," said Dr Mark Mooney, programme coordinator. "Industrial partnerships with companies such as Waters Corporation highlight the benefits of working together to address this global issue."

The online distance-learning course targets those working in the agri-food industry, regulatory agencies and analytical communities and will enable these food industry professionals to specifically enhance their skills and knowledge in food safety, food fraud and food legislation, with a focus on emerging issues.

Topics include concerns around food fraud, authenticity and traceability, the links between chemical contaminants and human and animal health, the biological hazards and threats posed by animal feed and food, the various technologies used to enable rapid and early detection of food safety issues, and the current and future global food legislation needed to ensure and maintain sustainable food safety production.

Dr Paul Young, senior director of government affairs at Waters Corporation, which is a member of the Governing Council of the Global Food Safety Partnership, said the Masters will aid food sustainability in the long-term. "We are delighted to be working with the IGFS, through supporting professionals to increase their knowledge in the area of food safety. We believe that building a base of qualified food safety professionals in countries through programmes like this is an essential step towards sustainability."

Professor Chris Elliott, pro-vice chancellor at Queen's University, said: "Food safety is a global challenge that should be addressed at a global level. We gratefully welcome sponsorship by companies such as Waters Corporation to help train future leaders in food safety across the world on our leading e-learning programmes."

The Masters course was also welcomed by Lystra Antoine, chief executive of the Global Food Safety Partnership. "Supporting and promoting co-operation for food safety capacity building, especially in emerging economies worldwide, is at the heart of our mission and trainings like these, as supported by Waters Corporation, are critical to improving public health, facilitating market access, and enhancing food security across the globe."

The course is currently accepting applications for October 2017 and February 2018 start dates.

Two employees from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India have already been selected to begin the Masters from their home country.

Meanwhile, the IGFS at Queen's is currently leading an EU-China partnership through the European Union's Horizon 2020 programme and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology that aims to predict, prevent and reduce food fraud and improve food safety by focusing on improving food legislation, food inspection and increasing access to information across both continents.

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