APEC seeks greater food safety harmonisation

Posted by Editorial on 6th August 2009

The second Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Food Safety Cooperation Forum has recently been held in Singapore, with members agreeing to improve food safety sharing procedures across the region.

The APEC member economies established the Food Safety Cooperation Forum in 2007 to tackle food safety issues across the region. It has seen over 440 people from 19 countries participate in 24 capacity building activities since its inception.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand’s CEO, Steve McCutcheon, said that the Forum was critical to improving food safety here in Australia and in the wider APEC regions.

“Food safety is a shared responsibility and is no longer an issue just for individual countries,” he noted. “Food is also a vital component of trade and a considerable contributor to APEC member economies.”

“At the Singapore Forum, we were pleased to announce that the APEC economies have agreed to continue their efforts in strengthening food safety capacity building activities and improving food safety information sharing across the region. We also reaffirmed our commitment to working together to build robust food safety systems so as to accelerate progress towards harmonization of food standards with international standards to improve public health and to facilitate trade,” Mr McCutcheon advised.

“APEC economies will focus their attention on strengthening coordination of food safety capacity building activities, utilizing a broad range of government, industry and academic stakeholders through the new Partnership Training Institute Network initiative developed by the United States of America (USA),” he continued. “The capacity building activities will include strengthening capacity in assessing food safety capacity building needs, food safety risk analysis, developing food laws, standards and enforcement systems, microbiological risk analysis and assessment, food safety risk communication, and chemical safety risk assessment, among others.”

FSANZ added that the participating members had also resolved to build on current networks for sharing food safety information in the event of food safety emergencies.

The Forum was co-chaired by Australia (Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ)) and China (the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the People’s Republic of China (AQSIQ)). Representatives from 18 APEC member economies attended, as well as key international organisations with an interest in food safety.