Bringing laboratory and clinical analytical potential to promote the development of safe agricultural products with high value to support the health food market and food for the future
Faculty of Medical Technology, Mahidol University have started a medical technology laboratory analysis project namely, “Safe Fruits and Vegetables for the World Kitchen” since 2013 with the aim of promoting public health in consuming food that is safe from insecticide and pesticide residues that might be contaminated in vegetables and fruits.
As a result of the initiation of the Agricultural and Food Safety Development Project: Certification of Agriculture and Food Safety from Pesticide Residues in the Central Region, Fiscal Year 2018, Faculty of Medical Technology, Mahidol University has brought expertise in analyzing techniques with high sensitivity and specificity to assist in the analysis of health status and residue among farmers. For the analysis of pesticide residues in the planting fields in conjunction with the analysis of agricultural products and food samples, it made to promote agriculture and food safety and raise the standards by certifying agricultural products and food safety. Especially the production of fruits and vegetables that are free from pesticide residues, heavy metals and pathogens. By using the main use area, Nakhon Pathom as a model for developing the potential of agricultural production that could make the economic expanding, develop the valuable careers, increasing income and improving the quality of life of the people, hospital patients and general consumers. Including the group of 8 central provinces with the various networks’ cooperation, including 8 provinces (Nakhon Pathom, Suphan Buri, Ratchaburi, Kanchanaburi, Samut Sakhon, Samut Songkhram, Phetchaburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan) for integration work along the value chain.
At the source, there is an exploration and development of plots aimed to be the safe agriculture (Classified by productivity) through the seminars that would train farmers to change their attitudes about the analysis of health status and residues in the body which including random inspection, plot analysis and advice on various factors and production processes.
In the middle of the way, there is laboratory analysis for the safe agricultural products certification in 4 groups, consist of
1) Pesticide residue group Antifungal and other substances
2) Heavy metal group
3) Pathogenic microorganisms
4) Parasites and parasitic eggs
As for the destination, these safe agricultural products are forwarded to 9 hospitals in Nakhon Pathom Province and expanded to support the policy of food safety hospitals of the Ministry of Public Health, approximately 50 hospitals in the 5th health zone. The purchase price is about 30-40 percent higher than the price of general agricultural products. In addition, these products are also linked to a department store, convenience store, a handful of markets and health food stores.
In this regard, the achievements of the work were presented to the Prime Minister. (General Prayut Chan-o-cha) and has been extended to develop the project "Green Army, Green Farmer for the Nation and the People", which aims to jointly develop safe agriculture in the area under the responsibility of the military. To jointly extend the national level effectively responding to the government's large-scale agricultural policy and sustainable agriculture.
And in the fiscal year 2019, our Faculty has been allocated a budget continuously by receiving grants from the project of university namely “Certification of Agriculture and Food Safety from Pesticide Residues in the Central Group” to continue the Safe Agricultural Development project in promoting agriculture and food safety. During the second year, it focuses on monitoring the performance from the source by encouraging farmers to produce safe agriculture and food for delivering it to various consumers, especially hospitalized patients, the personnel in government-private organizations, consumer groups and general people.
Aside from the current analysis of pesticide residues, our faculty has expanded the scope of analysis to cover heavy metal detection, microorganisms and parasites that may contaminate fruits and vegetables which may lead to disease or affect the health of consumers. and also, further developed a test kit to find pesticide residues as a health care alternative for consumers. There is also a plan to upgrade the medical technical laboratory that might be received international standards and has more high potential for use in clinical testing to support the development of medical formulas (Function food) and the production of high-value foods for health (Healthy Food for the Future). For example, agricultural raw materials that have the effect of helping to reduce blood sugar levels which suitable for diabetic patients or helping to reduce uric acid levels for patients suffering from gout, etc.
With the determination in the aspirations of being the top universities aiming to develop society, our Faculty therefore has a policy on academic services in analyzing product safety to be certified according to the international standard ISO 17025:2017, which corresponds to the vision and mission of Mahidol University. That is to aim to become a world-class university. At any rate, the ultimate goal, providing people with good health and quality of life, is to have fruits and vegetables and products that are safe for consumption. This will help encourage and support the above-mentioned goals. In summary, Food and Biological Safety Assessment Laboratories has laboratory ready for request for accreditation Laboratory standards according to quality standards ISO 17025:2017.