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Ensuring food safety a sophisticated task for Near East region


In welcoming delegates to the opening of the 10th session of the FAO/WHO Coordinating Committee for the Near East, H.E. Mohammad Hossein Emadi, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to FAO and the Rome Based Agencies, said ensuring food safety was a sophisticated task considering the challenges brought by globalization and international food trade, increased demand for safer and better quality of food, as well as threats that arise from new and intensification technologies of food production.

Food safety can be achieved only by coordinated actions across sectors.

“Due to the dynamics of international trade and the emergence of new cross-border challenges and threats, the degree of interdependence between states has increased and urges us to work together closely.

Mohammad Hossein Emadi

H.E. Mohammad Hossein Emadi, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to FAO and the Rome Based Agencies

“Ensuring food safety can be achieved only by coordinated actions across sectors, endeavors, mutually shared information and collaboration”, he said.

Guilherme da Costa, Chairperson of the Codex Alimentarius Commission said, “the definition of the problems and needs of the region concerning food standards and food control and working collectively at the regional level give countries the possibility to highlight regulatory issues arising from food control in order to strengthen their food control infrastructures”.

For FAO, food safety is critically linked to several sustainable development goals (SDGs), including poverty eradication (SDG1), achieving zero hunger (SDG2) and ensuring good health and well-being for all (SDG 3), among others.

Coordinating committees serve a critical purpose.

Markus Lipp, Head of the FAO Food Safety and Quality Unit welcomed delegates on behalf of Qu Dongyu, Director-General of the FAO. “Coordinating Committees serve a critical purpose; amongst others, they provide a regional platform to discuss in depth issues of regional importance, they provide countries the opportunity to express their needs to FAO and WHO, and they provide the opportunity to plan and coordinate on representing regional priorities to other Codex Committees”, he said.

Phillipe Verger is the WHO Food Safety Advisor for the region. The Middle East together with Africa, is one of the regions carrying the highest burden of foodborne disease and the World Bank estimates the productivity loss of unsafe food to be some USD 95 billion per year worldwide for low- and middle-income countries. Within the Eastern Mediterranean Region, WHO has developed a Regional Plan of Action for Food Safety and is providing concrete support to increase capacity of countries. Verger described change underway in WHO: “Country needs must be at the center of WHO’s work and the organization, across all three levels (national, regional and global), is committed to optimizing technical support to countries”.

Tom Heilandt Codex Secretary said that the new Director-General of FAO has presented his vision for FAO with a particular focus on science. This is good for Codex as Codex has to base itself on the best available science. “There is another focus on impact and implementation which is very much in line with the new Codex strategic plan”, he said.

Keynote address: Chemicals in food - the invisible challenge

Mark Feeley

Mark Feeley, Health Canada - keynote speaker at CCNE10

The keynote address was given by Mark Feeley, Associate Director, Bureau of Chemical Safety at Health Canada. “A safe food supply depends on both sound science and having an active food safety and security system”, he said during his presentation which dealt with the invisible challenge chemicals in food pose. “Codex is the ideal conduit for taking risk assessments and providing advice to members for risk communication priorities”, he said.

The CCNE meeting is taking place all week and the working documents for the committee are available on the Codex website.