Laos: inauguration of the first Food Safety Laboratory in Vientiane
On Monday, April 24 was inaugurated the Food Safety Laboratory, in Vientiane, Lao PDR (Lao People’s Democratic Republic). The 1,200 m2 facility is the first laboratory of its kind in Laos. It will serve as the reference center for the control of food quality throughout the country.
The laboratory’s construction was overseen by the Mérieux Foundation, known for its expertise in strengthening laboratory systems and laboratory construction, design and supervision, in partnership with local authorities. The Food Safety Laboratory belongs to the Food and Drug Quality Control Center, which is managed by the Ministry of Health of Lao PDR.
Bounkong Sihavong, Minister of Health of Lao PDR, presided over the inauguration ceremony with guests including Ponmek Dalaloy, former Minister of Health of Lao PDR, Claudine Ledoux, French Ambassador to Lao PDR, Alain Mérieux, Chairman of Institut Mérieux and Philippe Sans, President & CEO of Mérieux NutriSciences.
Mission: to analyze and certify the quality of food
The objective of the laboratory 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 25 laboratory rooms and sophisticated testing platforms able to detect the different kinds of contamination.
The construction of the laboratory was supported through a €1 million donation by Mérieux NutriSciences, dedicated to protecting consumers’ health throughout the world.
About foodborne diseases
Foodborne diseases are a major global public health threat: according to the World Health Organization, in the South-East Asia Region alone, foodborne diseases cause 175,000 deaths annually, and the Region contributes to one third of the global deaths due to diarrhea in children under five years of age.
Foodborne illnesses are mainly caused by food contamination with harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins or chemicals.
Microbial and chemical risks can also be introduced at the farm level (e.g. using water contaminated by industrial waste or poultry farm waste for irrigation of crops).
Similarly, such risks may emerge during processing, transportation or storage of food and food products.