Small Island Developing States

Strengthening Food Control Capacity in Nauru

As a country that depends almost exclusively on imported foods (over 90% of food consumed in Nauru is imported), safeguarding its food imports is of high priority. This is especially important given the history of potentially unsafe and/or fraudulent imports that Nauru has recorded in the past. Currently, inspection at the border looks only at quarantine issues but does not address food safety and quality issues.

In addition, the local food preparation environment is at risk through inadequate cold chain compliance and increase in the number of restaurants operated by foreigners who are not aware of the food safety requirements of the Nauruan environment. This is compounded by the inability of some foreigners to speak English or Nauruan. Hence there is a need to develop appropriate training materials, including consideration of language issues (English/Nauruan/Chinese), so all food businesses are aware of their role in ensuring a safe and nutritious food supply to consumers. Assistance is also needed to establish a grading system of businesses according to compliance level and also foster the concept of risk-based inspections.

To underpin these inspection efforts, the existing draft Food Safety Regulations, which were drafted by WHO using the codex-harmonised template food regulations for the Pacific (which have served as a basis for all recent food regulations in the region), need to be submitted for endorsement by the Nauru legislative body. Having joined Codex Alimentarius in 2011, Nauru lacks state approved food regulations and, thus, enforcement is weak. While Nauru has little capacity in an intense engagement in Codex at the international level, the most effective way the country can use its Codex membership is as a means to improve the understanding and familiarity with international food standards and how these may be applied at the national level. Hence, there is a need to revitalise its national Codex Committee as a coordinating body for food safety and quality in Nauru.

The Nauru Department of Commerce, Industry and Resources has requested FAO’s assistance to strengthen the national food control system. Efforts will be made to ensure that all officers involved in food inspection have a common understanding of how they should work together, or coordinate their work, to ensure that they operate a seamless inspection system for all foods imported and subsequently sold on the domestic market. Consideration will be given to identify the most efficient inspection points (e.g. at the border) and what degree of inspection is subsequently required at the internal points of distribution (shops, restaurants, etc.).

Outputs

  1. Assessment of the food safety and quality situation in Nauru
  2. An action plan to achieve endorsement of the draft Food Safety Regulations (2011), including any final food safety technical comments on the regulations
  3. Policy statement on operational responsibilities for inspection of imported food 
  4. Food Inspection Guidelines / Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
  5. Health Inspectors and Quarantine Officers trained on Imported Food Inspection
  6. Health inspectors trained on domestic food inspection
  7. Information Education Communication (IEC) materials for food business operators
  8. Private Sector food operators trained in safe food handling
  9. A draft proposal for endorsement of National Codex Committee by government

Activities

  • Assess food safety situation and existing food control in Nauru and draft a concise assessment report that identifies capacity building required to improve food control
  • Carry out a final check of the codex harmonised food safety regulations , and develop and support implementation plan to expedite adoption by legislative body 
  • Clarify roles and responsibilities of officers involved in border control  
  • Develop Food Inspection Guidelines / SOPs appropriate to Nauru for imported and domestic food
  • Train officers involved in imported food inspection on coordinated and collaborative border control appropriate to Nauru’s unique setting
  • Train food inspectors on domestic food inspection
  • Develop appropriate information and training material on food safety for food business operators 
  • Train food business operators and raise awareness on food safety
  • Revitalise National Codex Committee and facilitate formalization of its recognition by government
10 Feb 2015
 - 31 Jul 2016
Funding
US$ 68,698
Donors
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
PACIFIC