Almacafé launches agrochemicals and ochratoxins laboratory (ALAO)
January 23 - 2023
Coffee Geography Magazine
Almacafé, the logistics arm of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC), has just launched its laboratory for the control of agrochemicals and ochratoxins (ALAO), the first in the sector and which offers specialized analyses for identifying traces of pesticides and fungal toxins in green, roasted and soluble coffee.
“We are in the final accreditation process, but analyses are already being conducted, and the goal is that by early 2023 we can start controls of chemicals, such as chlorpyrifos, that are widely used in coffee farms, and analyses of fungi (ochratoxins) to be controlled for food safety reasons, especially in processed, roasted and freeze-dried coffees, which some markets also require,” Octavio Castilla, the general manager of Almacafé, said.
Pesticides are necessary in coffee farming to help increase crop productivity, but traces until certain standard limits cannot be found in final produce due to their toxicity to human health. With state-of-the-art equipment, suitable Colombian professionals, and accredited international methodologies, the laboratory will do meticulous controls so that coffee that is exported does not contain traces of chemicals that exceed the permitted limits, so that Colombian coffee meets the requirements of any market worldwide.
The laboratory, with an investment close to COP 2.5 billion (USD 524,000), will allow coffee to comply with the new regulations that various countries and markets are demanding, such as the European Union, which has already announced the suspension of imports featuring any excess of chemicals and molecules.
Authorities in different countries to which thousands of bags of coffee are exported, such as Japan, regulate the content of these compounds (for example, chlorpyrifos).
The new laboratory will improve competitiveness of the sector as a whole, not only by assuring the very high quality of Colombian coffee (with its unique sensory attributes), but also its safety in terms of agrochemical traces and ochratoxins. In the medium term, this service is expected to be extended to other types of agricultural products, such as fruits and cocoa.
José Felipe Jaramillo, deputy general manager of Almacafé, points out: “Today, not only the coffee market, but also any type of food product, has increasing controls, both due to regulations and market trends and consumer demands, due to the need for greater food safety and security.”
“It is a matter of markets, of trends that must be met, and a latent need for any exporter in Colombia regarding food safety and security. We did not have that strength, and this laboratory begins to give us that added value in Colombia,” he highlighted.