The effects of inadequate food control
Obstacles to adequate food control
Discussion of the total quality management of food fortification processes was based on the working paper 'Quality Assurance in Food Fortification Processes' (CONFORT 4). For the purpose of this Consultation, a food control system (FCS) covers activities such as issuance of laws and regulations, government inspections and analyses, and quality assurance by industry. The Consultation emphasized the need for an efficient food control system in order for food fortification processes to meet nutritional objectives. Inspection procedures should be risk based and quality assurance procedures at the production level should be based on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP).
The Consultation agreed that inadequacies in the FCS at any or all stages in the production-consumption chain has cumulative contribution to the deterioration of product quality. This results in: economic losses on the part of industry and government; lost reputation on the part of the producer, and; social development setback for the health and nutrition programme when the expected impact, in terms of benefit to target population groups, is not realized.
Major obstacles to implementation of adequate FCS programmes occur when material sourcing, production, packaging, storage, transport conditions and delivery systems are sub-optimal. Poor or variable quality of raw materials, unreliable and poorly fabricated equipment, and inadequate manufacturing and marketing facilities lead to poor product quality. The lack of efficient and skilled manpower to carry out an effective FCS both at the production and the government levels, coupled with limited training opportunities is another major obstacle. Moreover, legislation and regulation may not be well developed nor enforcement mechanisms established to ensure that government standards are met. The lack of adequate political, financial and technical support of an efficient monitoring and surveillance system is often the cause of failure.
The Consultation underscored the need for collaboration among government, industry and the consumer to make FCS work effectively. There should be multi-sectoral participation in the development of necessary laws, regulations and standards and the commitment of government to their enforcement through adequate monitoring, inspection and surveillance. Adequate training of people at all levels of the food control system should be a priority.
An aspect of food control requiring attention which is specific to control of fortified foods, is the selection of methodologies for the determination of vitamin and mineral content of foods. Development or selection of analytical procedures should be based on consideration of accuracy and precision of measurements, available facilities and equipment, simplicity of procedure and rapidity of determination. Methodologies used must be internationally recognised.