|Agenda Item 4.2 a)||GF/CRD Vanuatu-1|
FAO/WHO Global Forum of Food Safety Regulators
Country Paper proposed by Vanuatu
The republic of Vanuatu is located in the western Pacific, between 13 and 23 degrees south, and 166 and 172 degree east. Its closet neighbors are the French territory of New Caledonia to the south, Solomon Islands to the North west and Fiji to the east. About 80 or so islands of varying sizes make up the Republic. The total land area is 12,361km2. The biggest island in the group of islands is Espiritu Santo counts for 34% of the total land area. About 68 of the islands are inhabited meaning that there is enough land areas for subsistence farming.
The sea area covers 680,000 km2 including the 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone. The population of Vanuatu is 200, 000 in the latest 1999 national census. Before independence in 1980 Vanuatu was formerly known as the New Hebrides jointly colonized by Britain and France as the only condominium in the world. The Capital, Port Vila is one of the fastest growing towns in the Pacific and a major tourist destination from around the globe due to its beautiful tropical climate.
Major means of revenue for the government is copra, cocoa and tourism.
Vanuatu is a developing country which food safety is very new as preparing and growing food is very traditionally handled. However the country is beginning to adopt western laws to look into areas of food safety. In understanding the importance of food safety we begin to realize that food is a common factor in transmitting diseases. There is no proper data in the country to really see the extend to foodborne illness. We do admit that there is a lot of cases of food poisoning in the country that has not been reported due to lack of proper reporting procedures, testing facilities and qualified human resources in the field of Food safety.
The first food legislation was the Food Control Act N0. 21 which was passed in parliament in 1994. This legislation has just come into force in 1999 after it has been gazetted in the National gazette. This is an Act to regulate and Control the manufacture, importation, Sale and distribution of food and to prevent for matters connected therewith or incidential thereto.
The ministry of health with assistance from WHO has in draft now the following regulations:-
It is an act to regulate the meat processing industries.
Laws made under the Municipalities Act are food by-laws which provide for the regulation and control of food in the Municipality of Port Vila.
These are guidelines to provide the minimum level of action required by Vanuatu government authorities and food business in carrying out food recalls.
These departments are safeguarded by the Acts and policies mentioned above which authorizes them to implement necessary procedures to ensure food safety practices. Below are some of the many tasks performed by the different stakeholders:
Vanuatu has formed a food Safety Committee to oversea Food Safety programmes and this committee is working very hard to see that food safety is given priority in different government departments and private sectors activities who deals with food safety. Vanuatu still needs further assistance from developed countries and especially donor agencies such as WHO and FAO in developing food safety legislations and help train implementers to implement legislations and regulations. WHO has sent various consultants in developing the Food Control Act, Food Regulations and the Vanuatu Food Recall Protocol and the Vanuatu government through the Ministry of health would like to see this help continues in the future to ensure Vanuatu has a high standards of food safety in the Pacific and as well as in the international scene.