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"Joining forces for health" – exchange of experiences between German and South African food chemists

German and South African food chemists
(c) WWU-Kristin Woltering

In September, a six-strong delegation from Stellenbosch University and other South African research institutes visited the Institute of Food Chemistry at the University of Münster (WWU) in Germany. This exchange of experiences focused primarily on strategies for containing the risks represented by mycotoxins. The bilateral project was selected for promotion and funding within the framework of the ideas competition held as part of the German-South African Year of Science 2012/2013.

Mycotoxins are substances detrimental to health which are produced by mould. In the course of the cooperation projects, experts from both countries exchanged the very latest scientific findings and developed a common strategic approach to this problem. Their objective is to reduce the incidence of mycotoxins in agricultural products from Africa, and thereby to improve health and increase the safety of feedstuffs. With this purpose in mind, specific attention is also being paid to possibilities of proving the presence of mycotoxins in foods.

"We are very pleased indeed to welcome our colleagues from South Africa to our university. Interpersonal communication plays a crucial role in our collaboration," emphasised Prof. Dr. Hans-Ulrich Humpf, Director of the Institute of Food Chemistry at the WWU. The delegation's schedule comprised more than just collaboration with their colleagues from Münster; the mycotoxin researchers also gained important stimuli for their research projects from working visits to the FLI Institute of Animal Nutrition in Braunschweig and to the Federal Institute of Risk Assessment (BfR) in Berlin.

In order to further intensify this cooperation even after the conclusion of the latest visit, the partner countries are jointly organising another congress in this thematic area as part of the current Year of Science. This time the event will be held in Stellenbosch, South Africa, in February 2013.