RIKILT - Institute of Food Safety was created in 1975 through the merger of the Government Dairy Station in Leiden and the Government Agricultural Testing Station Maastricht. The Wageningen-based institute was initially part of the Nutrition and Product Quality policy department [beleidsdirectie Voedings- en Kwaliteitsaangelegenheden] of the then Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries.
MissionThe institute was charged with the mission to conduct more basic research. It was decided that the institute should not just restrict itself to milk and dairy products, animal feed and fertilisers. The institute also had to carry out research into meat and vegetable products.
During the 1980s food safety became an item on the political and social agenda. At the same time RIKILT also started doing dossier assessments together with the RIVM.
RIKILT became an independent organisation and became part of Wageningen University and Research Centre's Agricultural Research Department. The institute entered the market and won contracts for many projects from the (inter)national industry, product boards and the EU.
Repeatedly called upon
Lately risk assessment, setting of standards and determination of genetically modified organisms in animal feed and food have been important topics of research. RIKILT was repeatedly called upon to contribute to the research and inspections during large and small food safety crises. For instance, the institute’s microscopic research unit checked animal feed for traces of animal meal during the BSE crisis. During the dioxin affair the institute carried out analytical research on many hundreds of samples. The fact that RIKILT was one of few laboratories with a quick and cost-effective screening method (the CALUX) was a major advantage.
RIKILT has managed to maintain and reinforce its unique position as a reliable laboratory with numerous tasks for the ministry of Economic Affairs. In the past few years, research in an international EU context has played an increasingly important role.