FAO/WHO Global Forum of Food Safety Regulators
Improving Efficiency and Transparency in Food Safety Systems
SUMMARIES OF CONFERENCE ROOM DOCUMENTS FOR THEME 1 - REGULATORY ISSUES
Canada's food safety system operates in a multi-jurisdictional setting involving federal, provincial, territorial and municipal authorities. Under such shared jurisdiction, a comprehensive agreement has been established entitled Food-borne Illness Outbreak Response Protocol outlining the roles and responsibilities of all governments involved in the investigation of food safety emergencies and detailing an integrated approach in response to national and regional food-borne illness outbreaks. For transboundary situations, Canada endorses and follows the Codex Guidelines for the Exchange of Information in Food Control Emergency Situations. As for domestic products, the Protocol serves as the guidance document to address a national food safety emergency involving an imported product. New initiatives to improve food safety emergency procedures involve projects to enhance early detection and investigation of a food-borne illness. Health Canada has developed a program entitled "Skills Enhancement for Health Surveillance" which is an internet-based training initiative for local and regional public health departments across Canada to increase skills in epidemiology, surveillance and information management. A national reporting system is also being developed entitled "Outbreak Investigation" to improve notification of all food-borne illness outbreaks in Canada.
On 21st January 2002 the EU Council of Ministers took the last steps towards the adoption of a Parliament and Council Regulation establishing the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and laying down a new framework for Food Safety in the European Union. The new Regulation establishes the principles, definitions and requirements on which all future food law in Europe will be based and defines the terms `food' for the first time at the European level harmonizing differences that did exist between some of the Member States. It also defines the term `food law' which covers a wider range of provisions beyond those relating solely to food (e.g. measures relating to materials and substances in contact with food , measures which may have a direct or indirect impact on food safety). Furthermore, the Regulation establishes the rights of consumers to safe food and to accurate and honest information. Future food law will be based on an integrated approach from the farm to the final consumer, including measures applicable on the farm. The Regulation establishes the principles of risk analysis in relation to food law and establishes the structures and mechanisms relating to the scientific and technical evaluation to be principally undertaken by the European Food Safety Authority. In addition, the Regulation formally establishes the Precautionary Principle as an option open to risk managers where decisions have to be made to protect health but scientific information concerning the risk is inconclusive or incomplete in some way. The new Regulation provides for traceability of all food and feeds as they move between businesses, with information being made available to the competent authorities upon request. The document includes a description of the technical structure of the future European Food Safety Authority.
This CRD provides a description of the European Union's rapid alert system put in place since 1978 amongst its Member States. The Member States have a duty to provide as a matter of urgency, information in the case of a serious risk to the health of consumers. It is applicable to all consumer products, food and non-food, insofar as these products are not already covered by specific equivalent provisions in other Community acts. In legal terms, Member States are only obliged to inform the Commission in cases where the dangerous product could be placed on the market outside the territory of the Member State that has identified the specific risk. But in practice, as the single market becomes ever more integrated, it is becoming increasingly difficult to be sure that a product will not go beyond the borders of a given Member State and therefore, notification is useful in any case. There are currently two networks : the food network and the non-food products network. These networks are supported by the latest available computerised information technology. The document details the procedures for the functioning of the Community Rapid Alert System and describes it's modernization as effectuated through a regulation entered into force during mid-February 2002 and established under a new network linking up the Member States, the Commission and the new European Food Safety Authority.
This paper discusses new food safety challenges posed by the growth of the international food trade; public health implications of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS); and the role of the World Health Organization's (WHO) International Health Regulation's (IHR) in promoting food safety. Reviews concerning various shortcomings of the current leading international agreement in the area of food safety and trade (i.e. the WTO SPS Agreement), are addressed and it is stated that the globalization of the food industry necessitates not only reform of an international trade agreement that protects business interests, but also an international food safety agreement to protect consumer interests. This paper concludes that this need could be served by supporting the revision of the WHO IHRs as they apply to food in international trade and recommends that developed countries should provide the WHO with extra-budgetary resources to promptly complete this effort. Such steps will help restore public confidence in the safety of the food supply and promote further steps towards trade liberalization in the food sector. Such steps will thus benefit producers as well as consumers.
The document summarises food safety regulation in agriculture in Indonesia. The lack of food safety awareness in farmers is stressed as is the consequential result that Indonesian agricultural products are below the standard required by consumers and the international market. The Indonesian National Standard (SNI) is the only authorized standard applied nationally in Indonesia. Issued by the National Standardization Institution, the SNI promotes effective production, increased productivity and quality assurance on safe food production. The HACCP system is adopted nationally under SNI No. 4852-1998 and applied in the agriculture industry as the main tool in establishing food safety in agricultural products. The implementation of the HACCP system in the agricultural sector is recognized by the Ministry of Agriculture Decree No. 303/1996 which acts as a technical regulation on the National Standardization System for the agricultural sector. However, for implementation by small-scale farmers, HACCP requires modification in addressing specific local conditions. Indonesia needs to promote food safety programs within the agriculture industry are in policy development; food safety assurance; food safety promotion; training and education; information dissemination and these programs would need support from developed countries through both bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
The contamination (dioxin crisis) of food of animal origin occurred in Europe during 1999 and represented an opportunity to evaluate the food control system in Italy. The experience of the crisis highlighted deficiencies in the control system and the existence of an efficient traceability system for animal and product consignments from other EU Member State, thereby permitting the tracing of most animal and product consignments coming form Belgium over the period in question. The dioxin crisis urged the European Union to improve the feed control system, through the establishment of an effective traceability system and a strengthening of the rapid alert system of the EU Member States. The experience of the European Union fosters the creation of a permanent international observatory in charge of alerting all countries worldwide of occurring food emergencies. The management by the FAO or the WHO of a computerized system (through the Codex Alimentarius) for the gathering and circulating of notifications pertaining to food health emergencies, has been suggested.
The document provides information on national agriculture and food regulation in Lao's PDR-1. The Food Law is enforced primarily by the Ministry of Health. Good manufacturing practices and a number of essential standards (i.e. for drinking water, ice cream, tomato sauce, iodization salt, mineral water and ice) have been issued based on the Codex Alimentarius Commission guidelines. Codex standards are used as a reference for inspection purposes of other food products for which Laos food standards are not available. The Food Control Authority is led by the Food and Drug Administration Commission which was established in 1991 and is managed by the Ministry of Health. Difficulties are highlighted in running the three official laboratories of the country. In the case of food export, the Food and Drug Department and the Food and Drug Quality Control Center under the Ministry of Health, are responsible for controlling and delivering certificates of food analysis and quality assurance of these foods. The control of domestic food products is a multidisciplinary activity which requires the involvement and cooperation of all concerned. The document contains a list of requirements necessary to strengthen national food control systems and capacity building on food safety.
Morocco's food inspection is currently conducted under two main laws (adopted in 1977 and 1984) and a series of complementary regulations related to the safety and trade aspects of food products. The basic legal text governing the inspection of exported and imported live animals and of food products of animal origin is the law adopted in 1989 and which explicitly delegates powers to the Ministry of Agriculture in decisions concerning the banning of products which present a risk to human health. Food control in Morocco is carried out by specialised units in several Ministries (Agriculture, Health, Interior, Industry). Their interventions are not always coordinated despite the legal establishment, since 1968, of an Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Commission. The main responsibility for ensuring food safety rests, however, with the Ministry of Agriculture. Following reported delays in responses to inquiries from international organizations (e.g., Codex, OIE, OMC, FIL), it was suggested that guidance be developed to designate appropriate contact points able to provide prompt responses to various enquiries. Further developments in Morocco include: risk management options chosen during two emergency food safety situations (i.e., ESB, Dioxin); proposals towards greater flexibility to publish a decree in cases of food safety emergencies; the examination for future endorsement of a food law and of a draft law to create a Moroccan Food Safety Agency; the extension of a national quality management programme (established primarily for fish and fisheries products) to all food sectors. A national Sanitary Monitoring and Survey Unit and national biosecurity commission have been established. National recommendations have been issued to create a structure in charge of assessing risks in order to establish a functional split between risk assessors and risk managers; establish a rapid alert system; elaborate a coordination system amongst all stakeholders involved in food safety; split processing and development aspects from official food safety control; and lighten procedures to adopt legal texts regarding food safety.
This paper presents figures and analysis of the 1991 cholera outbreak that led to 322,562 contaminated people and 2,909 victims and concludes that water (particularly stagnant water), is the main route of transmission of Vibrio cholereae. The outbreak of this epidemic raises concerns of environmental health threats and the lack of adequate sanitary measures for the evacuation of waste waters, highlighting the problem of sanitary education and preventive and curative action to control Cholera spread. The need for surrounding countries to coordinate their efforts is imperative since cholera-like disease has a transboundary infection nature and a multi-sector National Commission to fight against cholera has been established, as has a Coordinating Technical Group by Brazil, Colombia and Peru. Multi-sector collaboration of all bodies involved nationally in food safety is called for. There is a need for the reinforcement of national sanitary legal requirements in the preparation and handling of street-vended food and beverages. This outbreak initiated the education of young women in the administration of treatment against dehydration. Combining health care-education-community is also felt to be a good preventive pre-requisite.
The paper discusses the origins and levels of threat regarding mercury exposure by consumers of fish products in the Philippines. It proposes a series of recommendations to address the problem, including: 1] the establishment of a laboratory to undertake comprehensive inorganic and methyl mercury determination in areas "at risk" to provide the necessary guidelines to the community, with particular reference made to high risk groups (e.g. pregnant women and children); 2] provide education of high risk groups; 3] to request local government units to a) continue in health and environmental monitoring activities in the affected areas, b) require establishments to install anti-pollution devices for air pollution and waste treatment recovery/treatment facilities, c) relocate of ballmilling/refining process into an industrial zone, d) undertake remediation/mitigation measures in the environment to ensure that exposure limits to mercury will be kept at a minimum or within permissible limits, e) conduct monitoring of fish especially those with high levels.
Situated in central Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo is confronted with many food safety emergency situations, augmented by its location in equatorial and sub-tropical areas subject to many communicable diseases transmissible to humans from animals (zoonoses). The current unstable political situation within the Democratic Republic of Congo has resulted in scarce official monitoring, insufficient food quality control and a lack of financial and logistic means required to review and test food. Priorities include the food production chain, imported food control, risks linked to inappropriate transportation and conservation. Common foodborne diseases (enterobacteriae provoked/caused toxi-infection due to enterobacteriae and to vibrios cholerae among others and emerging diseases (Ebola virus, ESB...) and other food contamination are present in the country. Poor living conditions are the main roots of this decrease of public health in the country. Although national expertise exists to identify hazards, logistic resources (e.g., laboratory equipment) as well as training programmes of technical staff are missing. The technical assistance and financial support of the United Nations are required to establish a real capacity building strategy on food control facilities and procedures within the country.
Presently, the Congo Republic has no legislation related to food safety. Consequently, the plant protection service has proposed a draft food law currently under discussion and promulgation. Services involved in veterinarian and zootechnical inspections were truly operative up to the 90s thanks to the good management of the Veterinarian and Zootechnical Research Center (VZRC) laboratory. These services are currently paralysed due to a lack of financial support and of equipment (chemical reagents). This is also due to the decision taken to stop meat inspection at borders. The Plant Protection and Phytosanitary Control Service focuses its activities on imported products in checking certificates of origin. Congo is a net importer of the majority of its food. Import levels greatly extend available control capacities on imported food. This imbalance is mainly due to the absence of a national food laboratory. In addressing these problems rapid action is required to establish an efficient food control system, to review and adapt current legislation to foster food safety control, to carry out training of staff involved in food control and to increase coordination on food control provisions at sub-regional and regional levels. All provisions have the objective to reduce undue exposure of consumers to foodborne hazards. The Congo-Brazzaville Republic is a disabled country shocked by several consecutive civil wars and is slowly starting to build up its economy. The drafting of comprehensive food legislation should be urgently undertaken by the national authorities. Thus, the proposed draft food law on zootechnic and zoosanitary regulations is most welcome, its application utilitarian to all operators (including rural areas) involved in food control.
This paper describes the main regulatory framework in place to assure food safety in Tanzania. In particular, the responsibility for carrying out food safety and quality control functions in Tanzania is assumed by Ministries of Health, Agriculture and Food Security, Natural Resources and Tourism, and Ministry of Industries and Trade. Laws empowering these ministries had been considered to be adequate for monitoring and control of transboundary food safety emergencies. These laws include: a Food (Quality) Control Act (establishing the National Food Control Commission (NFCC) and the general mandate of the Ministry of Health); a Plant Protection Act (empowering the Minister for Agriculture and Food Security to regulate the import and export of plant products to and from the country with the view to controlling diseases and pests and also the control of export/import of food products of plant origin in coordination with the NFCC); a Fisheries Act (empowering the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism to regulate and to ensure safety and quality of all fishery products produced and processed in the country); a Radiation Control Act (establishing a National Radiation Control Commission in charge of controlling the presence of radioactive material including in food trade); a Standards Act (empowering the Minister for Industries and Trade, through the Tanzania Bureau of Standards to promulgate national standards including standards for food products); and a Tropical Pesticides Research Institute Act (1979) (establishing the Tropical Pesticides Research Institute, which is responsible for registration and approval of pesticides for use in the country).
This paper presents several cases-studies in food-borne disease outbreaks which occurred in the USA with food contamination particularly through E. Coli O157:H7, Listeria Monocytogenes or Cyclospora. Lessons learned from these outbreaks include the need for interaction of government, industry and academia to address emerging public health issues. Even in the presence of large uncertainties, such collaboration can protect the public's health on an interim basis while targeted research begins to answer the most important questions. As new information becomes available, the collaborative framework facilitates the rapid integration of the new information into the evolving control effort. Response to food safety emergencies requires the ability to recognize unusual health events, to identify the cause with adequate specificity to permit categorization of the agent, to investigate the possible sources of exposure sufficiently well to determine if food is a likely source of the agent, to refine the food exposure data sufficiently well to permit a reasonable reaction, and to effectively and quickly segregate potentially contaminated food to prevent its consumption. For food safety emergencies that involve well-recognized foodborne hazards in characteristic food vehicles (e.g. Salmonella in eggs, Campylobacter in poultry meat, Vibrio in seafood) a rapid effective response generally requires enhancing the public health and regulatory infrastructure and improving interagency interactions and government-industry-consumer cooperation and communications. It is mentioned that the same systems may be used for addressing unintentional foodborne disease and for identifying and addressing intentional contamination of foods (bioterrorism), but this would necessitate adaptation of the existing food safety systems.
The potential for terrorists to deliberately contaminate foods must be taken seriously. On 17 January 2002, the WHO Executive Board adopted a resolution (EB109.R5) which recognized the importance of safeguarding food in a global public response to the deliberate use of biological and chemical agents and radionuclear attacks intending to cause harm. Reducing these threats of sabotage will require an unprecedented degree of co-operation among health, agriculture, and law enforcement government agencies; the food industry; other private sector bodies and the public. Systems to rapidly and effectively detect and respond to disease outbreaks resulting from contamination and other causes are critical. The potential for contamination and interruption of food supplies as acts of terrorism should be considered in the assessment of food safety assurance systems. Planning must include consideration of communication with the press and the public in order to manage fear and unfounded rumours. Panic and hysteria may result in far more serious consequences to public health, as well as industry and commerce, than the threat itself. Existing systems for public health surveillance and food safety should be strengthened; separate systems for terrorism concerns should not be developed. Allocation of resources should be relative to the nature and likelihood of the threats, whether they are inadvertent or deliberate. FAO and WHO are strengthening their disease surveillance and response operations to include food sabotage and to provide guidance to Member States in the development of their programmes for prevention, detection and response to terrorist threats to food. Appropriate consideration must be given to the possibility that information on threat agents and system vulnerability could be used by terrorists.
This paper presents a historical summary of the regulatory framework implemented in Côte d'Ivoire from independence to date. The 1990s represent an important period during which there occurred an increased concern in food safety issues due to demographic and development factors and to a major international foodborne disease crises (BSE). Furthermore, the increased pressure put on national food producers from the exporting market authorities which request higher quality and safety standards in fish products and pesticide residues is stressed including difficulties faced by the government in complying with certain safety management options chosen by countries importing Ivorian food products and the impudent weight of certain sanitary measures on the national economy.
In addition to the presentation of the national regulatory framework in Nigeria, the document recognises that amongst the major contributors to the success of any food safety programme are education and alleviation of poverty. The government has introduced the Universal Basic Education programme, which assures a free and compulsory education up to the secondary school level. The Government has also introduced various programmes for the training of school leavers, to prepare them for employment and to start small-scale industries. As the government continues to strive to improve the basic infrastructure in terms of electricity, potable water, telecommunication, adequate accommodation and environmental sanitation, it also recognises the need for improvement in the implementation of the national food hygiene and safety policy in the following areas: 1) Review, harmonization and effective enforcement of the existing laws relating to food safety; 2) Strengthening infrastructure and managerial capacity in risk analysis; 3) Forging closer inter-ministerial collaboration, cooperation and coordination; 4) Involvement of all stakeholders in policy formulation as a key to the success of the food safety programme; 5) Strengthening the capacity of states and local governments in promoting safe and hygienic practices by street food vendors and catering establishments.
This document copies an advertising brochure which presents SAFEMEAT. This is a national system implemented in Australia involving a strong partnership between industry and the federal and regional governments. To date, SAFEMEAT has implemented a national livestock identification scheme to ensure domestic consumer information and international markets requirements on meat products. SAFEMEAT initiates research and development projects particularly in relation to microbiology and foodborne pathogens. It also develops communication linkages and monitors the status of meat products and their conformity to appropriate standards. Future action and development will be carried out in the following areas: in establishing meat standards and regulation; in promoting research and development in the meat industry; in improving emergency management; in monitoring/reducing residues and pathogens; in implementing further management of national systems; and in planning communication and education programs in order to improve awareness in the general public and amongst operators on all aspects of food safety in meat and meat products.
National and international awareness of the importance of food safety is increasing as a result of the identification of emerging foodborne pathogens and new hazards from imported and domestically produced foods. New approaches for regulatory inspection and enforcement activities and new technologies are being implemented as part of Canada's integrated approach to enhancing food safety. In Canada, change is being driven by industry-wide adoption of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) based practices. From a regulatory perspective, HACCP based risk management approaches are providing a basis for the strategic investment of inspection resources to maximize the effectiveness of inspection activities based on a better understanding of food safety risks and the management of those risks by industry. Canada has made considerable progress and the implementation of HACCP programs such as the Quality Management Program, Food Safety Enhancement Program and Meat Inspection Reform have resulted in important lessons learned. Key lessons include: successful implementation of HACCP based inspection programs involves the commitment of regulatory resources from initial program design and consultation through to ongoing program maintenance; the recognition of stakeholder ownership essential to the success of HACCP programs; the introduction of HACCP programs through careful planning with implementation staged over a reasonable transition period; and the significant impacts attained through the implementation of the HACCP programs on regulatory strategies, inspection activities and staff, resulting from the substitution of hands-on inspection responsibilities to verification activities.
This paper presents the roles and functions of the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) of the European Commission. The main task of the FVO is to carry out on-the-spot inspections to evaluate the food safety control systems operated by national authorities in Member States and third countries, to report its findings and conclusions, to make recommendations and to follow up the actions taken by these authorities in response to its reports. It also has responsibility for monitoring control activities on animal health, animal welfare and plant health. In addition, the results of the FVO's inspections can contribute to the development of community legislation by identifying areas of existing legislation which may need to be amended or where new legislation is required. The FVO is required to verify that the competent authorities in food exporting countries are capable of ensuring that community requirements are met in respect of all products exported to the EU; in the case of certain products, to inspect individual production establishments, of which there are currently around 15,000 approved for export to the community; and to monitor on a regular basis the operation of around 290 inspection posts that carry out specified checks on all imports of animals, animal products and food of animal origin at the point of entry into the EU including the individual approval of new inspection posts. A new approach for Member States under which the three aspects of control - verifying transposition, receiving reports from Member States, and the carrying out of on-the-spot inspections - will be combined into one integrated control process, involving a food control cycle based on four main stages. The new framework will also apply to third countries.
This document presents the national inspection system for traditional foods in Indonesia. It sets out the basic problems, constraints and difficulties in reducing foodborne illnesses throughout the country and the food chain. Most traditional foods are in general home-made or, if produced industrially, involve small scale enterprises. It is reported that most traditional food entrepreneurs do not have sufficient skill or knowledge of food processing hygiene. Moreover, the capability of managers is still limited to registering their products. To strengthen their capacity they should be guided by education programmes which, to the benefit of the government, are easy to monitor and control. The quantity of contaminated foods is still described as high and is recognised as a heavy social and economic burden on the nation. In 2000, 30 cases of foodborne diseases were registered including 13 mortalities and 2,762 morbidities. The origins of these diseases were mainly due to chemical contaminants, microbial pathogens, and natural poisoning, but most cases could not be identified due to late information, unrepresentative samples, weak coordination among agencies, difficulties in getting supportive data. Most of the unsafe foods originated in street-vended foods, meals served in restaurants, home industries and household practices.
Food safety is an emerging issue in Mongolia as its international food trade expands and the numbers of food premises increase. This article aims to introduce the changes in food safety in Mongolia and makes comparisons before and after 1990, when the country made a dramatic socioeconomical change from a centralized economy to a free market economy. The food safety situation in Mongolia is presented from the end users health outcome, or from the end of the food chain till food supply, storage and point of purchase. Some facts are tabulated, having been collected by the local inspection agencies within their current capacity of analysis and monitoring. Positive changes include advances in the legislative environment and technological improvements in small food enterprises over recent years. Reference is made to the objectives of the National Plan of Action on Food Security, Safety and Nutrition (NPAN) for which there exists strong international support. Implementation of the NPAN is principally required for advocacy; the training of different stakeholders; the establishment of training programmes; and the strengthening of laboratory capacity. Changing economic circumstances contribute significantly to the food safety situation in Mongolia. Vulnerability of traders and poor people to the different kinds of inspection penalties is very high, with destroyed foods and the labour of traders contributing to national values. Therefore, inspection agencies must work towards prevention rather than control. Great endeavours must be made towards building national consensus and to consolidate different food safety agencies using more radical approaches by both government and international agencies.
Cattle can be a host to Taenia saginata infection which is presented as tapeworm in humans. It is not of large public health significance in New Zealand and is of equally small significance in the Nation's beef production. A range of treatments - including proper cooking -are effective for meat potentially carrying undetected cysts. Medical treatment is also readily available in New Zealand for any human infection. Studies have shown that a (theoretical) suspension of post-mortem inspection for the parasite would make little impact on public health outcomes. Many importing country requirements still require this check to be part of the processing procedures. There are grounds for reassessing the reasons for this inspection in New Zealand's case and for considering better use of scarce resources. Other countries may wish to consider the New Zealand model in ranking their public health priorities. As the Codex Alimentarius Commission considers its work on food safety objectives (and the Codex Committee on Meat and Poultry Hygiene recommences work), there may be lessons with wider relevance than just their application to the New Zealand situation.
This paper describes the regulatory framework established in the Federation of Russia through federal laws and government decrees covering all aspects of food safety (i.e. the epidemiological population survey, food quality, health nutrition policy, food control, food registration, genetically modified food, analysis and sampling methods). The creation of a computerized accounting system of results of food safety monitoring is also noted. The Russian Federation proposes the establishment of a Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee at the international level to review and classify the different sources of production and application of genetically modified food and related standard acts. It is suggested that the scope of this Committee be broadened in the future to evaluate all new industrial technologies and biotechnologies applied to raw materials and food products. The Russian Federation has also proposed the creation of an International Center of Analysis of Food Products under the joint responsibility of FAO, WHO and other appropriate international organizations. This Center would also include a "fast-response group" to face food safety emergency situations and collect and publish in a worldwide database all data relating to contamination of food and food rejections in order to prevent trans-boundary food hazards.
This document presents the food safety regulatory framework presently in force in Senegal, including the various national competent authorities responsible for the control and inspection of domestic and imported food. A list is presented of national laws and decrees which establish basic principles and structures such as the National Codex Committee. The paper recommends that more resources be allocated to food quality promotion and control; that food safety legislation be reviewed, harmonized and updated; and that food control authorities be evaluated and reinforced. It also raises the need for quality assurance manuals for the control of pesticide residues in food to be established and distributed to official laboratories. The paper calls for improved regional coordination among countries of West Africa in harmonizing their national food legislation in order to share resources and strengthen regional capacity building. The need for staff training in food control services and national laboratories is also stressed.
In Turkey, responsibility for food safety is shared between the Ministry of Health (MH) and the Ministry of Agriculture (MARA). The MH inspects food production establishments, issues working licenses and conducts inspections of food sold on the market as well as food catering establishments. The MARA inspects food products produced in these establishments and is responsible for food control of imports and exports. The responsibilities of the two ministries are given in the Main Food Law and they are supported by their own regulations. Within the harmonization process of the European Union, the national legislation on food is being revised for certain main topics such as official control of foodstuffs. The regulation of the MARA on Food Production, Consumption and Inspection of Foodstuffs, involved the introduction of HACCP principles and brought a new approach to the food inspection system. Codes of hygiene, in addition to HACCP systems are part of the new plans for the food control systems of the MH permitting greater efficiency and effectivness in food control through cooperation with the MARA.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's landmark rule, the "Pathogen Reduction; Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Systems (PR/HACCP)" (1996) forms the cornerstone for the U.S. food safety strategy for meat and poultry products. However, the PR/HACCP rule did not extend HACCP concepts to slaughter. A new approach to food safety, the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP), was initiated. The new system enables establishments to fully integrate their production processes. Establishment employees conduct sorting activities based on initial anatomical and pathological examination of carcasses, followed by government inspection of each carcass and verification of the establishment HACCP and slaughter process controls. The U.S. Department of Agriculture contracted with an independent private corporation to measure the organoleptic and microbiologic accomplishments of the traditional inspection system in young chickens, market hogs, and young turkeys. The Department developed new science based organoleptic performance standards from this data collection. Establishments in the HIMP initiative were provided flexibility in how best to meet those performance standards. Data collected in the project to date, by both the independent contractor and in-plant inspectors, show important improvements in both food safety and non-food safety conditions. The Department intends to propose the appropriate regulatory changes that adopt the new inspection system.
Americans consume an average of 234 eggs per person per year. Some of these eggs will contain Salmonella enteritis (SE) bacteria, capable of causing illness if the eggs are eaten raw or are used in foods not thoroughly cooked. Because eggs can become contaminated internally from the hen, many common egg-handling practices, (e.g. holding eggs and egg-containing foods at room temperature instead of under refrigeration, inadequate cooking and the pooling of eggs to prepare a large volume of an egg-containing food that is then subject to temperature abuse or inadequately cooked) are now considered to be unsafe. As a result, in an effort to reduce eggs as a source of SE illnesses in the United States, the Egg Safety Task Force is developing a regulatory plan to eliminate egg-associated SE illnesses. The Task Force is composed of designees of the Federal food safety agencies responsible for egg safety, including the Food Safety and Inspection Service, United States Department of Agriculture, and the Food and Drug Administration, United States Department of Health and Human Services. The plan developed by the Task Force is the basis for the new eggs and egg products inspection approaches and techniques described in this conference room document. After a large outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 linked to fresh apple juice products in the western United States, FDA held a public meeting on juice safety that was attended by the Fresh Produce Subcommittee of the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF). Following discussions on how best to ensure the safety of juices, the NACMCF recommended the use of HACCP principles in processing juice. On April 24, 1998, FDA issued proposed rules to require (1) the use of HACCP for all juice and juice products, and (2) warning label statements on untreated fresh juice. The warning label statement requirement is currently in effect and the HACCP rule (published in final form on January 18, 2001) will become effective over the next three years, based on the size of the firm.