IAS, USP Staff Members Participate in Periodic Table of Food Initiative Workshop in Ethiopia

IAS Manager Laboratory Services, Dr Vincent Lal (right) and IAS Quality Manager, Mereoni Degei (left) at the Periodic Table of Food Initiative Centers of Excellence Workshop, Ethiopian Public Health Institute, Addis Abba, Ethiopia

The University of the South Pacific’s Institute of Applied Sciences (IAS) Manager Laboratory Services, Dr. Vincent Lal, and Manager Quality & Communication, Mereoni Degei participated in a workshop held for the IAS Funded Project, Periodic Table of Food Initiative (PTFI) – Centers of Excellence (CoE) at the Ethiopian Public Health Institute, Addis Abba, Ethiopia on 12 – 14 December 2023.  The PTFI CoE project funded by the American Heart Association in conjunction with the Serevare and the Rockefeller Foundation

IAS is one of the nine selected CoE from around the world to use PTFI standardized tools to generate food composition analysis with the PTFI COE Project, IAS Laboratory will contribute data towards a large public reference database of food compositions that will be used by researchers and policy makers in food, agriculture, nutrition, and health.  The other selected CoEs are based in the USA, Columbia, Mexico, Australia, Ghana, Netherlands, Thailand, and the Ethiopian Public Health Institute.

Participants of the PTFI Workshop

The workshop focused on a sequence of training and onboarding steps to comply with the analytical protocols of the PTFI as well as the completion of PTFI standard documentation on compliance with national Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) or other Plant Genetic resources regulations in place.

Dr Vincent Lal, when presenting on the IAS Centre of Excellence Update stated that IAS has already acquired the instruments to be used which are Gas Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) for fatty acids and steroids, High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) -Mass Spectrometry (MS)/MS (tandem) for phospholipids and Inductively Coupled Plasma – Optical Emission Spectrometry (ICPOES), Graphite Furnace Atomic Absorption Spectrometry (GFAAS) and ICPMS for minerals analysis.

In addition he added, “IAS is a regional laboratory, and as part of the USP is owned by the 12 member countries. The project will involve coordinating research activities related to community participatory mapping of food resources, plant genetics, and identifying the nutritional value and the biochemical diversity in selected foods from the Pacific Islands.”


Dr Vincent Lal presenting at the PTFI Workshop

IAS will also coordinate the “Good Food Fellows’ Research in the Oceania as part of the FPTI capacity development programs of which IAS is a recipient.  The Good Food Fellows selected by IAS will be provided tuition incentives by PTFI.  Their research areas and how best they could collaborate with other COEs researchers was also discussed at the workshop.

IAS Quality Manager, Mereoni Degei said that the workshop was valuable in that it allowed the exchange of information and solving of any identified common issues amongst the CoEs, “ The workshop provided a valuable groundwork for proper onboarding of analytical samples and also brainstorming of possible issues that could be encountered and solutions to address these to ensure that IAS as a CoE complies with the PTFI requirement as well as the international accreditation requirements of the IAS laboratory.”

Acquiring samples for analysis under the FPTI project will also require compliance with local Access and Benefit Sharing policies and regulations.  IAS will be hosting a stakeholder consultation on ABS issues related to food and agriculture in early February 2024 to formulate Material Transfer, Prior Informed Consent, and data sharing agreements related to the PTFI project.

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