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Hilina Enriched Foods PLC announced on Tuesday, March 5, that it has established the first operational private food testing laboratory for commercial use with an investment of 80 million birr.
The laboratory, which is accredited to the ISO standard, is established to support the Agricultural and Agro processing sector, to ensure food safety and consumer protection as well as to increase the capacity of the food industry to offer its products for export to international markets.
The laboratory is stated to have the capacity to provide a full range of services such as microbiological, chemical and physical tests for food analysis.
“Ethiopia spends over USD one million overseas for the testing of sesame and coffee that are to be exported. This was because we didn’t have a laboratory or the necessary facilities available within our country to provide the required testing services,” said Belete Beyene, Managing Director of Hilina Enriched Foods PLC. The company stated that the accredited food laboratory will play a critical role in the economic development of the country. Products, once tested, are accepted by all member states of the International Laboratory Accredited Cooperation (ILAC), which boosts the export potential of processed and non- processed agricultural products, by bestowing confidence on importing countries, with regards to quality and composition.
The newly operational laboratory, which employs 31 people and has the capacity to process 40 to 50 samples per week, expects to raise that number to a 100, once it relocates the laboratory to a bigger facility that has been recently completed.
“This laboratory will have a significant and positive impact on companies as it will save them a lot of time and money. Usually, when a company sends a sample abroad to be processed, the test will cost over USD 300, and that is without considering other costs like shipment expenditure. The advantage of having a locally based laboratory is that companies will be able to save time. What takes around 20 days when using laboratories based abroad will now take just around a week, which is quite change,” said Hilina Belete, Deputy General Manager of Hilina Enriched Foods PLC.
The company also affirmed that it works very closely with other international companies located in the Netherlands engaged in this line of work and has received a grant of 750,000 Euro from the Netherlands government for the establishment of the laboratory.