Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Hiroyuki Konuma

FAO Regional Representative for Asia-Pacific

CLOSING ADDRESS

by

Mr Hiroyuki Konuma
Assistant Director General and
FAO Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific

at the

Food recall and traceability - application in national food safety control

under

Support to Capacity Building and Implementation of
International Food Safety Standards in ASEAN Countries
(GCP/RAS/280/JPN)

Chiang Mai, Thailand
15 to 17 February 2013

 

Distinguished participants from the ASEAN countries,
Resource persons,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I have great pleasure in participating in the closing session of the 3-day Regional training workshop on “Food recall and traceability – application in national food safety control” organized by the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (RAP) for participants from the ASEAN countries. I am pleased to know that this second workshop of the project “Support to Capacity Building and Implementation of International Food Safety Standards in ASEAN Countries” has been successfully completed with great support of all the resource persons and  the  distinguished participants to the workshop.   

This project has been formulated by the FAO with generous financial contributions from the Government of Japan. On behalf of the FAO, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to the Government of Japan for their continuing support to various activities to enhance food safety in ASEAN countries.

I would also like to thank the Government of Thailand for hosting this workshop in this beautiful city of Chiang Mai and providing  the traditional Thai  hospitality to all the participants.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Food safety, as you are aware, has become increasingly important in recent years due to various factors such as volume and diversity of trade in foods, greater public demand for health protection, changing pattern of hazards e.g. resistant microbes, more sophisticated methods for detection of hazards, changes in production and consumption patterns, etc.

In this era of globalization, with increasing volumes of food and agricultural products being traded both domestically as well as globally, countries have realized the importance of national food safety policies harmonized with international standards to ensure that their populations are not only protected from food safety hazards but that their products can be traded globally. These activites are of special importance to ASEAN countries in their quest toward moving forward for a common ASEAN market by 2015.


Ladies and gentlemen,

This 2nd regional workshop of the project is organized by reflecting the results of discussion during the inception workshop of the project “Principles and further activities for Codex implementation” which was held during 17-19 September 2012 in Bangkok, Thailand. In the inception workshop, many ASEAN countries representatives had expressed their interest in understanding more about the use of food recall and traceability system, which are  fundamental tools in events relating to food safety emergencies in national food safety control.

I believe during the workshop participants have realized the necessity of prompt and rational response with risk based approach in the food safety emergencies since the food safety hazards have potential to spread to large area very rapidly in this era of globalization. Therefore countries are requested to identify and characterize potential hazard, to carry out risk assessment and to implement the appropriate risk management options and communicate the risk promptly to the relevant stakeholders and as appropriate to the situation.

Once the hazard has been identified in the contaminated food,  food recall may be a useful option for responding to crisis and preventing further damage in emergency situations. Traceability is yet another useful tool for implementing food recall effectively and efficiently and thereby ensuring removal of the affected food.

I would, however, like to stress that these type of programmes can be only implemented successfully under well organized national food control systems and structures such as national food safety emergency response plans consistent with risk analysis concept as propounded by the Internatioal agencies. For successful implementation, it is important to have close collaboration with multiple agencies and stake holders as well as with international agencies such as FAO and WHO

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am glad to note that during the workshop, participants were able to enhance their knowledge of the risk analysis concept and related topics in a logical and sequential manner covering the theoretical aspects given in Codex principles and guidelines and the FAO developed documents, as well as through actual situations and practical experiences shared by experts on each of the topics.  

In the tabletop exercise sessions, participants were given an opportunity to discuss and decide most suitable options for managing food safety emergency events using result of preliminary risk assessment and considering given virtual situations. I believe, through such exercises, participants would have understood the advantage and disadvantage of food recall and traceability system among other options and also realized the need to build in the concept of food recall and traceability in their national system.

I must congratulate the participants for elaborating a road map for food recall and traceability for their countries during the final group work session based on the knowledge and experiences obtained during the workshop.  

Ladies and gentlemen,

I strongly urge the participants after returning back to their countries to actively work to further strengthen as well as implement this road map in their countriesand thereby improve national food safety control system by incorporating the various aspects of food safety emergency response, food traceability and food recall which they have learnt during this workshop. Once pursued by the countries of the ASEAN region, this would be an important land mark in ensuring food safety in the region as a whole. I would like to thank the resource persons for their strong support which has contributed to the success of this workshop.

Thank you.