April 25, 2017 | Vientiane (Laos)
On Monday, April 24, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos) inaugurated the first Food Safety Laboratory in Vientiane. The 1,200 meter facility will serve as the reference center to monitor and control food quality throughout the country.
The Mérieux Foundation, known for its experience and expertise strengthening laboratory systems and laboratory construction, design, and supervision, oversaw the laboratory’s construction in partnership with local authorities. The Food Safety Laboratory belongs to the Food and Drug Quality Control Center and will be managed by Laos’ Ministry of Health.
Bounkong Sihavong, Laos’ Minister of Health, presided over the inaugural ceremony, and guests included Ponmek Dalaloy, Laos’ former Minister of Health; Claudine Ledoux, French Ambassador to Laos; Alain Mérieux, Chairman of Institut Mérieux; and Philippe Sans, President & CEO of Mérieux NutriSciences.
Mission: to analyze and certify the quality of food
The laboratory’s objective is to safeguard local populations against foodborne diseases by analyzing and certifying the quality of imported, exported, and domestic food, as well as ensuring safety across the food chain.
The new Food Safety Laboratory is a two-story building with twenty-five laboratory rooms and sophisticated testing platforms able to detect a variety of contamination.
The laboratory’s construction was supported through a €1 million donation by Mérieux NutriSciences, a company dedicated to protecting consumers’ health throughout the world.
About foodborne diseases
Foodborne diseases are a global public health threat: according to the World Health Organization foodborne diseases cause 175,000 deaths annually in the South-East Asia Region alone, and children under five years of age account for one third of global deaths due to diarrhea.
Foodborne illnesses are mainly caused by food contamination with harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins or chemicals.
Microbial and chemical risks may be introduced in the farming process (e.g. irrigating crops with water contaminated by industrial waste or poultry farm waste).
Similarly, such risks may also emerge during processing, transportation, or storage of food and food products.