TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - Established in 1981, the Technical Service Center of the National Animal Industry Foundation (NAIF) is a pioneer in Taiwan in carrying out veterinary drug residue testing and has been recognized as the most impartial and professional independent agency of its kind. The NAIF also plays a key role in upgrading the livestock industry in many ways.
The foundation provides the testing services for local food manufacturers required before hitting store shelves either locally or globally, including the United States, Hong Kong, Singapore and others. The test items include preservatives, artificial flavors, colors, sulfur dioxide in food, nitrates and nitrites in meats, and other food additives.
The NAIF has more than 60 professional inspectors, who conduct testing and analysis of food ingredients, additives, drug residues, pesticides, heavy metals, toxic substances, biotechnology, healthcare products and traditional Chinese medicine.
Veterinary Drug Residue Testing
The humid and hot sub-tropical and tropical weather of Taiwan provides an ideal environment for bacteria and other pathogens in feeds or foods to multiply rapidly and cause illness for both animals and humans. It is rather challenging for local farmers to contain disease outbreaks given the country’s popular method of intensive livestock farming due to land scarcity.
To reduce production costs, farmers usually add a small amount of antibiotics or other veterinary medicine into animal feeds – a practice common among the developed countries – in order to improve growth efficiency, feed conversion rate and animal health. The NAIF’s center for technical service provides a variety of residue tests for frequently-used veterinary drugs that could be harmful to human health, including certain types of antibiotics, antimicrobial agents, antiparasitic agents, and beta-adrenergic agonists, to safeguard the health and safety of consumers.
Pesticide Residue Testing
The effects of pest damage on the food security of Taiwan are significant given its hot and humid weather, so it is common for farmers to apply pesticides to their crops. As the most commonly used pesticides are toxic to humans and their residues are frequently found on crops, the government has set a maximum residue level for different types of pesticides allowed to remain in or on a type of food. The NAIF provides pesticide residue monitoring programs for both farmers, either during the withdrawal period or after harvest, and consumer groups to ensure food safety.
Microbes cause food spoilage, and certain types of microbes such as Salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus can spread to people through foods and result in damage to health or food poisoning. The NAIF provides a variety of microbial testing that can identify general properties of Escherichia coli (E. coli), Staphylococcus aureus, and Salmonella, one of the most common causes of food poisoning. Testing for microorganisms that are believed to provide health benefits when consumed such as probiotics is also available at the NAIF.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) refers to living organisms with an altered genetic make-up that is edited in the laboratory to incorporate genes from another organism. The most common genetically modified foods in the market, like soy sauce, soybean flour, edible oil, syrup and pastries, usually contain ingredients sourced from genetically modified crops such as soybean or corn. In Taiwan, genetically modified foods are subject to a rigorous safety assessment and labeling. The NAIF is also planning to kick off GMO testing and analysis to meet demands.
Water Quality Testing
Taiwan has started to levy water and sewage charges from January 1, 2017. The NAIF has obtained permission from the Environmental Protection Administration of the Republic of China (EPA) to conduct testing for sewage treatment from a business operation. The services range from wastewater sampling to the testing for electrical conductivity (EC), temperature, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), chemical oxygen demand (COD), suspended solids (SS), turbidity, and Coliform group.
A staff member at the Technical Service Center of the NAIF conducting a turbidity test.
The NAIF conducts more than 300,000 tests every year, with clients ranging from government agencies to private sector firms, including the certification bodies. To enhance and prove its testing capabilities, the NAIF obtained several international proficiency test certifications from FAPAS/FEPAS, IDFB and other certificate authorities, including:
- 140 testing certifications issued by the Taiwan Accreditation Foundation (TAF).
- More than 60 food testing certifications issued by Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
- Five pharmaceutical and cosmetic testing certifications issued by Taiwan FDA.
- Accreditation for down and feather testing from the International Down and Feather Bureau (IDFB)
- Certifications for water quality testing accredited by Taiwan EPA.
- Listed as a category B certification body by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (No. TW20002).
The NAIF has also continued to work with local and international academic units to enhance its testing capabilities, while it is also committed to improve the food business' self-management capacity through online and offline educational and professional consultations.