governmentchemist


Government Chemist conference – knowledge is power by Ellie Gadd

Francis Bacon declared ‘knowledge is power’ in the essay ‘Meditationes Sacrae’ written in 1597. More than 400 years later, Bacon’s declaration of ‘knowledge is power’ still rings true – particularly for the science and innovation work carried out under the Government Chemist programme.

We are committed to sharing the knowledge and expertise we gain through our research under the Government Chemist function and regularly publish advice and guidance.

Last November we held our biennial Government Chemist conference, ‘Beating the cheats:  Quality, safety and authenticity in the food chain’, at the Royal Society in London. Expert speakers outlined methods for “Beating the cheats”, including presentations aimed at sharing the latest cutting edge analytical methods and research developments in the fight against food fraud.

With the help of the Science Media Centre, we held a successful media briefing ahead of the conference where our panel of speakers outlined the major issues that would be presented at the event. The panel also included Dr Frieda Jorgensen, from Public Health England, who was invited to discuss the problem of campylobacter contamination in some supermarket chickens – a topic that had been hitting the headlines.

As a direct result of the briefing, some of the major issues around food authenticity, food safety and food fraud were highlighted in the national media. This included a half page feature on wine fraud in the Sunday Times which discussed the extent of fraud and mislabelling in the UK, and outlined government plans for Britain’s new food-policing unit to target the criminals behind the fraud.

Several national newspapers – including The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph and the Daily Mail – reported on the widespread problem of campylobacter contamination in supermarket fresh chicken.

Selvarani Elahi, Deputy Government Chemist, and Michael Walker, Consultant Referee Analyst for the Government Chemist programme, were interviewed by BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service. Selvarani discussed food fraud, adulteration and water content in frozen poultry and Michael discussed the safety of the supply chain, food fraud and allergen thresholds.

It’s not just through the media that we share information about our research; we also publish news stories and blogs and we even recorded some of the presentations at the Government Chemist conference which have recently been uploaded to the Government Chemist pages on GOV.UK.

So if you want to know more about what we are doing, check out GOV.UK/GovernmentChemist where you can subscribe for Government Chemist updates or alerts.

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