The University of the South Pacific (USP) Institute of Applied Science (IAS) Analytical Laboratory has successfully renewed its international accreditation status to the standard ISO/IEC 17025 for another 3 years. The initial accreditation awarded in June 2004 by the International Accreditation New Zealand (IANZ) was initially funded by United Nations-Food and Agriculture Organization (UN-FAO). UN-FAO highlighted the importance of achieving accreditation after realising that no accredited laboratory existed in the South Pacific to conduct analyses on food and water products. The IAS laboratory is now the only laboratory in the South-West Pacific recognised by IANZ and qualified to carry out such tests. Previously companies sent food samples that needed quality testing overseas, an exercise that proved costly. Under the international accreditation system, laboratories have a review audit every year and a complete re-evaluation every three years.
Certain water tests are also accredited which has been beneficial for organisations that require analysis of drinking water for export purposes, as well as monitoring of drinking water, recreational and waste water for health and regulatory purposes.
IAS works towards three main goals, Accuracy; getting the right results, Precision; getting the same results and Reliability getting the same results right.
Professor Bill Aalbersberg, the Director of IAS, said the process of achieving and maintaining accreditation was challenging as corrective measures were carried out in order for the laboratory to be compliant with the policies and requirements of the international standard. IANZ follow the NZS/ISO/IEC 17025 standard hence a key requirement for the accreditation states that the institute work towards maintaining the quality assurance and quality control in the laboratory’s operations. Internal and external audits are carried out periodically to ensure that policies and procedures defined in the Quality systems are followed. Feedback from customers have been actively sought to improve the services provided by the Laboratory.
The renewal of the accreditation also added new accreditation tests, in the accreditation of mercury in foods, a mandatory test required for fish products that are exported to the European Union. Other new inclusions are Cadmium, Lead and Phosphorus Tests in Food, Phosphate, Sulphate Nitrate, Nitrite and Ammonia in Water.