Food Safety and Nutrition Reference Laboratory (FSNRL) is one of the four units in the Division of National Public Health Laboratory in the Department of Preventive and Promotive Health within the Ministry of Health. The main role of the laboratory is to conduct laboratory tests on food and water and any other relevant specimen with an overall goal of preventing and controlling non-communicable diseases that arise from the consumption of food and water which are contaminated with toxic compounds or of unsatisfactory nutritional value.
The key functions of FSNRL is to perform laboratory tests on food, water and any other relevant sample for the purpose of:
- Prevention, diagnosis and management of diseases of public health importance
- Enhancing compliance of food and water with safety and nutritional standards
- Providing support in response to disease outbreaks
- Monitoring and surveillance of food and water for public safety
- Providing support to multisectoral programs in public health
FSNRL is made of three sections namely:
- Food Chemistry
The sections operate both independently and collaboratively and are under the same management. The Nutrition Section tests food for nutritional components, Mycotoxins section for Aflatoxins and Food Chemistry section for toxic chemicals as well as general quality.
The laboratory performs tests on samples of food and food products, drinking water (bottled and non-bottled). The foods include but are not limited to cereals and cereal products; fruits, vegetables and their products; milk and milk products; alcoholic beverages, non-alcoholic beverages and edible fats/oils.
FSNRL performs tests for:
- Micronutrients and macronutrient levels in food. These include minerals, vitamins, proteins fats and carbohydrates
- Toxic chemical compounds in food and drinking water
- Aflatoxins and heavy metals in food
- General quality of food and water
FSNRL has rolled out test for salt iodine to the counties. The laboratory has partnered with Nutrition International (formerly Micronutrient Initiative), to provide salt iodine testing equipment in all the 47 counties and trained county laboratory personnel on testing. The equipment were distributed to all the 47 counties and placed in the county referral hospitals. These equipment helps in surveillance to ensure the population is consuming adequately fortified salts.
- FSNRL serves as the reference laboratory for testing at the county laboratories where referral samples from the county laboratories are tested using superior methods
- FSNRL provides technical support to the counties by training county staff on laboratory testing
FSNRL is working towards expanding the scope of specialized testing in foods, water and other relevant samples whose outcomes have a bearing on public health. These include:
- Profiling the total aflatoxins into specific aflatoxins namely B1,B2, G1 and G2
- Test foods for fumonisins (toxins)
- Test foods and water for pesticide residues
- Test foods and water for the heavy metals mercury, cadmium and arsenic
- Test water for fluorides, nitrites and nitrates.
- The laboratory is also working towards ISO 17025 accreditation