Pieter Scheelings, APFAN Co-ordinator
14 December 2001
APFAN (Asia Pacific Network for Food Analysis) has undertaken considerable activity over the last 18 months including some structural and management changes, organization of training workshop and planning for the next regional conference.
1. Management Changes
There have been several changes to the management structure of APFAN brought about by Dr Howard Bradbury's desire to stand down as Co-ordinator and the need for financial liability protection for members of the APFAN Board.
Dr Pieter Scheelings, Principal Scientist, Queensland Health Scientific Services (QHSS) agreed to take over the role of Co-ordinator from Howard Bradbury who served as Co-ordinator for the 10 years since APFAN's inception in 1989. Dr Bradbury however will continue on as Founding Co-ordinator in an "emeritus" role.
Incorporation of APFAN
APFAN has now been incorporated into a Public Company Limited by Guarantee in Australia. This "formalization" of the Board of Management was considered necessary to provide office bearers with both legal and financial protection during their voluntary APFAN Activities.
The new management structure now has three directors from Australia and four from the Asia-Pacific Region.
The APFAN Board comprises:
On behalf of the Board and fellow members, I would like to convey a special tribute to Howard Bradbury for his dedication and commitment to the APFAN cause.
2. Training Workshops
The 7th APFAN analytical Workshop was held at QHSS Brisbane from 25th August to 1st September 2000. The workshop attracted considerable interest including applications from a number of non-APFAN members. Although initially over-subscribed, the withdrawal of a number of registrants including three applicants from China a week prior to commencement of the workshop brought the number to a more comfortable 22 registrants. Late withdrawals without a financial penalty however is a problem APFAN will need to address.
The workshop registrants included four (4) from the Philippines, three (3) from Thailand, two (2) each from Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam and Singapore and one (1) each from India, Indonesia, Fiji, Pakistan, Malaysia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
For the 7th Workshop the Australian Centre for Agricultural Research (ACIAR) provided funds for 10 registrants who were nominated from the various overseas collaborative programs.
The theme of the workshop was "quality in food analysis" and this theme featured in both the analytical formal presentations and in the laboratory work. There was a strong focus on the quality control procedures routinely used at QHSS and participants were provided with copies of relevant analytical methods to trial in their home laboratories.
Feedback from workshop participants was again very positive with high ratings for work relevance, workshop format, proceedings and other training material as well as training facilities and social activities.
3. 5th Analytical Chemistry Conference
The fifth Analytical Chemistry Conference was held as a stand-alone conference from 5-8 November at the Melia Purosani Hotel Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The conference was jointly organized by APFAN and the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) and the theme of the conference was Quality in Food Analysis - Strengthening the South-East Asian Region. Whilst the organisation of the conference, ably led by Dr Julia Kantasubrata was excellent, the unfortunate and unforeseen events of 11 September resulted in the withdrawal of most overseas registrants. The perceived unrest in Indonesia as reported by journalists via the international press and television did not go well for the conference organisation. Indeed, because of the initial warnings from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs regarding the safety of travel in Indonesia, a number of Australians had their travel warrants withdrawn and Dr Bradbury elected not to travel to 5AC. Accordingly the number of registrations was down from the anticipated number of 150 to around 80 with most coming from within Indonesia.
Despite the lower than expected participation rate, the conference was considered a success from a scientific basis with a full program of diverse oral papers and some 30-40 poster papers. The participation and financial support from Instrument suppliers helped to keep the financial outcome to only a modest loss which was carried by LIPI. Because of the early financial commitments made by the organizing committee as well as LIPI, it was considered too difficult to defer or cancel the conference.
The social activities included both a welcome and farewell dinner and participants were treated to the welcoming of the rice goddess at the opening ceremony, traditional singers and dancers as well as some group sing-alongs at the farewell dinner.
Some of the participants also managed to find some spare time to visit the magnificent Borobudur temples for which Yogyakarta is world famous.
As Co-odinator of APFAN, I would like to record my thanks and congratulations to Dr Julia Kantasubrata and her committee members for their very professional efforts and LIPI for its staff and financial support.
4. Communication with Members
Dr E-Siong Tee as editor published the 3rd APFAN/ASEAN FOODS Newsletter in July last year. Whilst newsletters are an excellent method of communication, they are time consuming to edit and costly to print and distribute. The APFAN management needs to consider complementary methods of communicating news including the use of the Webpage to post items of interest.
5. Association with Professional Organizations
APFAN and the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology (AIFST) signed a Memorandum of Understanding which promotes co-operation between the two organisations. AOAC International has also indicated an interest in forming an alliance with APFAN in order to promote its activities and membership base in the Asia Pacific region.
6. WHO Second Total Diet Survey Workshop
As reported earlier, APFAN has a participating role in the Second WHO Workshop on Total Diet Studies which was initially planned for 12-24 November but which was postponed to early February because of the air travel problems after 11 September. Whist this workshop is primarily based around presentations, policy discussions and program design, APFAN is hoping, with some WHO financial support, to run a practical Total Diet Studies Workshop for food analysts based on the outcomes of the February Workshop. This will focus on laboratory sample preparation and analysis for pesticide and heavy metal residues in foods.
The association with organizations such as WHO will provide a greater international focus for APFAN and hopefully provide some external funding. Whilst the plans for the practical workshop are not well developed, it is expected that this will be clearer after the February workshop.
Details of the Workshop are available on the WHO Website: http://www.who.int/fsf/.
7. APEC Training Program in Indonesia
QHSS/APFAN in collaboration with AGAL is involved in a food analysis training program supported by AusAID. The title of the project is Institutional Strengthening of Indonesian Food Analysis Networks and the project includes training in Australia and in Indonesia with a focus on food reference materials, proficiency studies and quality assurance.
8. 10 ACC, Hanoi Vietnam
Whilst APFAN has only two registered members in Vietnam, it has an interest in developing a greater membership. One option is to hold a one-day workshop during 10 ACC on quality in food analysis specifically for Vietnamese food scientist. Other options are to provide keynote speakers/papers on food analysis and analytical quality assurance.