NMISA Contributes Towards A Hunger-Free South Africa
Aside from general influences affecting food security, the COVID-19 pandemic has further impacted food security as related factors like job losses, provincial lootings, and increased food prices are now additional concerns that need addressing.
The National Metrology Institute (NMISA) as Schedule 3A public entity supports the National Development Plan that aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. This plan has milestones that relates to food safety, the realisation of a food trade surplus, upliftment of small-scale farmers and ensuring household food and nutrition security. Eliminating food wastage is vital to reach these milestones, and NMISA has been addressing this issue in the following manners:
- Chemical contamination
Food contamination is one of the leading causes of food wastage. Additionally, doubt in the accuracy of food testing laboratories at regulatory levels for nutrients and contaminants can impact consumer confidence. Therefore, it is crucial that food testing is reliable and internationally comparable. NMISA has established itself as a centre of excellence in Africa by supporting the food and feed industry through the provision of reference measurements, reference materials and proficiency testing schemes. Our national measurement standards are internationally benchmarked against that of other International Metrology Institutes to ensure the highest levels of accuracy and measurement confidence.
- Spoilage due to temperature and humidity
Accurate temperature control throughout the entire cold chain is one of the most effective ways to ensure food safety. Storing food at the correct temperatures, reduces bacterial multiplication and survival as well as the risk of microbiological contamination.
NMISA has been serving the South African food and feed industry for many years by developing and maintaining the temperature and humidity measurement scales for South Africa. The temperature and humidity sensors used in industry are calibrated by NMISA directly, or via commercial calibration laboratories that obtain traceability from NMISA in turn.
- Radioactivity contamination
Low-level radioactivity could be present in food and feed, and sources of radioactive contamination includes natural radioactivity and industrial radioactivity. International trade regulations for food products often specify that an internationally recognised import or export test certificate of actual radioactivity levels accompany shipments to determine if such products meet the entry requirements of the destination.
NMISA and the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) have established a measurement facility that provides low-level radioactivity measurements for the most important radionuclides found in food and feed around a nuclear reactor.
- Waste due to food colour
Colour is an important quality attribute of food products because it signals freshness and flavour, and therefore influences the consumer’s purchase decisions. Food scientists, food processors and marketers all work towards food that look appealing and consistent.
The colour of raw ingredients will affect the finished product, and the appearance of food will change during processing and over the course of its shelf-life. This colour variation may not affect the taste but may affect the perception of the end-product.
Two principal colour measurement techniques are used in the food industry: Colorimetry and Spectrophotometry. NMISA provides a calibration service traceable to National Measurement Standards for using both these measurement techniques. Our services include the calibration of colorimeters, and neutral density filters as well as wavelength filters used for the calibration of spectrophotometers.
NMISA remains committed to support the food and feed industry in preventing food wastage. Accurate measurements are vital to support trade and industry and ensure food safety, which ultimately contributes to a Hunger-Free SA.