Established in 1872, the Walloon Agricultural Research Centre (CRA-W) is a leading scientific institution, under the Walloon Ministry of Agriculture. CRA-W employs some 450 people including 120 scientists (PhD and MSc holders in agricultural or chemistry). The expertise available at this multidisciplinary research institution covers the following areas: plant breeding, genetic engineering, plant genetic resources management, integrated plant protection, farming systems, agricultural engineering, agrometeorology, optimisation of agricultural food production and analysis and quality control of agro-food products.
The development of analytical systems (spectroscopy or/and molecular biology based methods) to check the quality of agricultural products is a priority focus of research within the Quality Department of Agricultural Products of the CRA-W. Over the last 10 years CRA-W has gained expertise in development and validation of methods for the detection and identification of contaminants of animal origin in feed. CRA-W was coordinator of the FP5 project STRATFEED entitled “Strategies and methods to detect and quantify mammalian tissues in feedingstuffs”. CRA-W is now coordinator of the FP6 project SAFEED-PAP “Detection of presence of species-specific processed animal proteins in animal feed” and is partner of the FP7 project CONffIDENCE “Contaminants in food and feed: inexpensive detection for control of exposure”. At the national level, CRA-W coordinated the FARIMAL project. This study was dedicated to develop new methodology for the species determination of animal products in feed by combining micro-spectroscopy techniques and Real Time PCR.
CRA-W was designated in 2006 Community Reference Laboratory for Animal Proteins in feedingstuffs . CRA-W organises as well several interlaboratory studies and training sessions. It manages several NIR instruments networks and feed databases through international collaborations (PROVIMI, INGOT).
CRA-W is also involved in the organisation of the international FEEDSAFETY conferences. At the end of the STRATFEED project, in 2004, the CRA-W organised in Namur the 1st FEEDSAFETY conference entitled “Food and feed safety in the context of prion diseases” in collaboration with the JRC-IRMM, the Belgian Food Agency (AFSCA) and the Walloon Agrobiopole (Agrobiopôle). The 2nd and the 3rd FEEDSAFETY conference “Methods and challenges” are organised by CRA-W (2007) and RIKILT (2009) in the framework of the SAFEED-PAP project.
In 2006, CRA-W, JRC-IRMM and RIKILT decided to join their efforts to create the Feed Safety Platform. This platform aims to gather institutes and stakeholders working to the use, development and validation of analytical methods for the feed sector.
Scientist involved in COST Action Feed for Health: Vincent Baeten