The Transforming Zimbabwe’s Animal Health and Food Safety for the Future (SAFE) project procured a Laboratory Microwave Digester for the Government Analyst Laboratory (GAL) in Harare, empowering the institution to achieve multi-element limits of detection previously unobtainable by other wet oxidation and dry ashing methods.
In addition to procuring the equipment, the project also installed the equipment and trained 9 (six females and 3 males) GAL employees on the use and management of the digester on the 9th of June 2021. The training focused on among other things; sample preparation, operating the machine and cleaning. The trainees were drawn from the Foods, Waters, Toxicology, Customs and Instruments sections of GAL.
The action recognizes the importance of food safety in ensuring food security and economic development. The main thrust of the action in respect of food safety will be strengthening institutional and regulatory capacity of the competent authorities, review of policies and regulations, and standards development and supporting the development of effective and efficient quality assurance protocols.
According to Livingstone Musiyambiri, the Director for the Government Analyst Laboratory, the microwave digester has improved the turnaround time for sample analysis.
“The laboratory used to digest samples using the microwave digester at the Central Veterinary Laboratory on Thursdays only as the agreed time slot. At times the laboratory digested samples using the wet-oxidation and dry-ashing methods which are not only slow but tedious and inefficient. The determination of trace elements and heavy metals using ICP-MS after microwave digestion is more sensitive and precise hence improving the accuracy, repeatability and reproducibility of results” he said
Consistent results every time.
Since installation, the machine has significantly improved GAL’s operations in sample digestion. This has also improved the turnaround time of sample analysis, consistency and quality of results.
Good news for Zimbabwean food producers and exporters.
The use of the microwave digester has also boosted the chance of the organization to get ISO accreditation which will enable GAL to get international recognition and effortlessly work with other laboratories through inter-laboratory testing.