Mauritius: The Government Analyst Division (GAD) has been awarded the ISO/IEC 17025:2017 Certificate by the Mauritius Accreditation Service (MAURITIUS), this morning, at the National Laboratories Complex, in Réduit.
The Minister of Industrial Development, SMEs and Cooperatives, Mr Soomilduth Bholah, and the Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Kailesh Kumar Singh Jagutpal, as well as other eminent personalities, were present on occasion.
In his keynote address, Minister Bholah congratulated the GAD of the Ministry of Health and Wellness for having successfully met all the requirements for its laboratory involved in Chemical and Food Testing to be accredited by MAURITAS, in accordance with ISO/IEC 17025:2017.
“Indeed, the efforts put in by the team of the GAD have borne their fruits and I am gratified that a significant milestone has been achieved in the landscape of food testing in the country,” he said.
Mr Bholah underlined Accreditation is highly regarded nationally and internationally as a reliable indicator of technical competence and provides formal recognition that testing, medical and calibration laboratories are competent, impartial and independent.
Accreditation is now increasingly accepted worldwide as the most transparent and non-discriminatory mechanism to assure the competency of laboratories; he pointed out.
Furthermore, the Minister emphasised that it is very important that laboratories, including food testing laboratories, meet the ISO/IEC 17025:2017 standard, which is the international standard used in assessing the competency of a laboratory as it assures that the accredited laboratory has the capacity to produce data that is accurate, traceable and reproducible.
Regarding GAD, Minister Bholah observed that it plays an overarching role in the testing of products governed by the Food Act and related regulations and has the mandate to ensure, inter-alia, those food items imported into the country are safe for human consumption.
“The accreditation status gained by GAD constitutes another feather in its hat and will now enjoy a higher level of credibility and recognition when it comes to the data and test reports being generated by its laboratory,” he said.
In addition, he underpinned that the GAD deals with strategic issues pertaining specifically to food safety in its day-to-day operations.
“The importance of food safety cannot be underestimated as if not well managed, it can have drastic consequences on human health, consumer confidence, economic development and the overall reputation of the country,” Mr Bholah stated.
Speaking of MAURITAS, Minister Bholah recalled that it is a signatory member to the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation Mutual Recognition Arrangement and the International Accreditation Forum Multilateral Recognition Arrangement, which are both multilateral agreements with respect to the recognition of conformity assessment bodies.
Therefore, the international recognition of MAURITAS implies that the test certificates currently issued by the Government Analyst Division accredited laboratory would be internationally acceptable, he emphasised.
“The GAD has now successfully joined the bandwagon of a total of 34 accredited laboratories supporting the Mauritian economy through the accreditation programme of MAURITAS and I am certain that it will contribute effectively to meeting the objective of the Government for better access to food which is safe for consumption by the population,” Minister Bholah said.
On this score, he appealed to all laboratories to embark on the path of Accreditation and the public in general to make use of laboratories that have been accredited.
For his part, Dr Jagutpal gave an overview of the span of activity of the GAD, which, he added, is the Chemical Laboratory of his Ministry as well as a one-stop shop for chemical analysis carried out on, namely: food, alcohol, drinking water, toxicological screening for body fluids from patients in poisoning cases; heavy metals in body fluids; quality control of pharmaceutical products; dialysis water quality and; methadone quality.
He highlighted that GAD works in close collaboration with the Public Health Food Safety Department, the Environmental Health Engineering Unit and the Central Health Laboratory of his Ministry and collaborates with the Forensic Science Laboratory and the University of Mauritius.
With the coming into force of the Food Act 2022 and the Mauritius Food Standards Agency, the GAD has a vital role to play to ensure that food we eat is safe, healthy, and of nutritional value, the Health Minister stressed.
Furthermore, Minister Jagutpal indicated that the Government had earmarked the region of Côte d’Or for the setting up of a state-of-the-art Central Health Laboratory, and the GAD will also be moving to Côte d’Or for better synergy. This project, to the tune of 1.2 billion rupees, is at the feasibility study stage and will be based upon a Build, Operate, and Transfer Basis, he informed.
Dr Jagutpal highlighted that this Accreditation, which concerns two fields, namely food testing and chemical, proves that the GAD has an acceptable quality management system and is competent to provide quality services.
With GAD attaining ISO/IEC 17025:2017 accreditation, it will be providing local food producers with internationally recognised certificates of analysis which will also be valuable for export products; he pointed out.
Furthermore, he outlined the key principles of this certification, which include, among others, being customer-centred, more efficient and fostering continuous improvement, which is in line with his Ministry’s mission to transform existing health services into a modern high, performing quality health system.