FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Highly diverse food culture in Asia and the Pacific leads to various food safety issues that require solutions with country and region specific approaches. Every year more than 275 million people fall ill and 225 000 people die due to food borne diseases in Asia and the Pacific region.

Fast urbanization, rapid growth of population, new technologies in the production and changing environmental conditions trigger the emergence of new food safety threats. FAO regional office for Asia and the Pacific works closely with the governmental authorities, local industry and other relevant stakeholders from the region countries to address these issues to achieve better food safety management systems. Specific activities include among others support for development and improvement of food legislation and regulation, enhancing the participation in Codex activities and adapting international standards for trade, assessment of the national food control systems. 

Food Safety Activities

The Asia-Pacific context

Asian food culture has a unique structure with a rich variety of food products consumed directly or prepared in traditional cuisine with rice, noodles and spices native to the region. Street food constitutes a large part of the food consumption preference, meanwhile demand for high-value livestock and fisheries products is also increasing with the growing food trade. Food consumption in Pacific islands is shaped around aquaculture and fisheries with variety of fruits, vegetables and nuts. Given the limited land for agriculture, the islands rely on large amounts of food imports from the region countries.

Member countries in the region are modernizing their food safety systems to ensure the availability of safe and nutritious food for the projected five billion inhabitants in 2050. FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific supports region countries towards this goal with country and region based approaches.

Current activities 

Country projects

  • Bangladesh improves national food safety institutional capacities (GCP/BGD/054/USA
  • Bhutan improves technical capacity in GM food safety assessment (2018, 2019, 2020) and biosecurity (Online situation assessment report, 2020, Situation analysis report, 2020)
  • Cambodia develops standards for Good Agricultural Practice Implementation and Certification (TCP/CMB/3608)
  • Indonesia assesses the national food control systems for future capacity development activities (TCP/INS/3605/C3)
  • Pakistan pilots the national Street Food Safety Programme (TCP/PAK/3602)
  • Thailand strengthens food safety and quality control of livestock products (Factsheet)
  • Mongolia develops efficient food control management system (TCP/MON/3705) and pilots quality private sector work in selected livestock and vegetable value chains (GCP/MON/014/EC)

Regional projects

  • 10 ASEAN countries build capacities on effective participation on Codex activities and standard setting (GCP/RAS/295/JPN)
    • Pesticide residue monitoring: Regional guide (2021), ASEAN countries’ situation analysis report (2020), Consultation zoom meeting report (2020)
    • Training workshops: Codex Trust Fund (CTF) workshop for Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar (2019), Tripartite regional workshop on foodborne parasitic zoonosis (2018), Regional simulation workshop (2018), Philippines (2017), Viet Nam (2017) , Lao PDR (2016, 2018), Myanmar (2016)
  • Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines and Sri Lanka improve imported food controls within the One Health framework based on the Risk Based Imported Food Control Manual, FAO 2016
    • Training on principles in Nepal (2017), Training on risk categorization in the Philippines (2018)
    • Stakeholder meetings in Myanmar (2017), Philippines (newsletter2018), Sri Lanka (2017)
    • Nepal food safety policy and legislation (2017)
    • Ensuring the safety of imported foods: Current approaches for imported food control in Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines and Sri Lanka (Full publication 2018Factsheet 2018)
  •  Regional pilot food safety indicators for Asia and the Pacific
    • Regional consultation on food safety indicators (2018)
    • Bhutan (2019), China (2019), Cook Islands (2019) and the Philippines (2019) conduct pilot projects to develop national food safety indicators 
    • Bhutan promotes food safety culture (2019)
    • Bhutan imported food situation report (2020)
    • Regional meeting to share the results of the pilot project, Wuhan, China, November 2019 (2020)
    • Individual final workshops (Bhutan, China, Cook Islands and the Philippines, 2020)
    • ASEAN workshop on the food safety indicator initiative (2020)
  • Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Viet Nam strengthen One Health programme and generate concrete evidence on improved collaboration for managing risks affecting food safety and relevant plant & animal health areas through the value chains (TCP/RAS/3620)
  • Singapore and Thailand contribute to a pilot project to develop an assessment tool to evaluate their capacities to control and monitor residues of veterinary drugs in food
    • Regional webinar on the pilot project results from Thailand and Singapore (2020)

Hot Topics

  • Strengthening INFOSAN Network in the region
  • Urban food systems and food safety (also see food for the cities programme) 
  • Policy advice in managing street food and informal food sector
  • Regional activities on Whole Genome Sequencing for food safety management
    • Peer-reviewed article: "Investing in Food Safety for Developing Countries: Opportunities and Challenges in Applying Whole-Genome Sequencing for Food Safety Management" (2019).
  • Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) and food safety in Asia and the Pacific
  • Biosafety and GM Food Safety assessment (see FAO GM Foods Platform)
    • The final report of the global community meeting of the FAO GM Foods Platform: Towards effective risk-based food safety assessment and regulatory management. 10-13 September 2019, Bangkok, Thailand (2020

    • FAO GM Foods Platform: Are we effectively evaluating food safety? Background paper for the global community meeting (2020, and the raw data is also available here