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Harmonizing national standards with Codex in Bangladesh


Senior officials of Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA), Ministry Officials, experts from academia, students, representatives of the food industry and officials from FAO met in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 4 April 2019 to gain a full understanding of the national strategy for harmonization of food standards with Codex.


Participants discuss national strategy for harmonization with Codex

“This meeting was important to explain the purpose of harmonization, the process involved, how to participate and the benefits on a national level”, said Sanjay Dave, former Chairperson of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, who was present at the workshop to provide his expertise and to explain to stakeholders that it is in their interest to harmonize their standards with Codex.

Participants were encouraged to collaborate with BFSA for the benefit of consumer health and enhanced trade opportunities. They learnt the importance of being able to work with risk assessments carried out for Codex and the benefits in facilitating trade with other countries. The Food Safety Act of Bangladesh requires BFSA to align its food standards with international standards in line with requirements under World Trade Organization Agreements. “Harmonization brings a country level with international best practices. A win-win for all stakeholders”, said Dave.

Start as soon as possible.

Sanjay Dave has simple advice to other countries who wish to initiate the process of harmonization of their food standards with Codex. They should start as soon as possible. “Codex standards are the best standards for safety of people and enhancing trade. I have seen the benefit myself in India when I started the process of harmonization in 2013”.

Codex standards provide the ideal benchmark for harmonization.

Sridhar Dharmapuri, Senior Food Safety and Nutrition Officer for the Asia-Pacific region said, “With support from FAO and generous donors, Bangladesh is making rapid strides in modernizing its food control system and elevating the implementation of internationally accepted food standards and best practices”. Adopting standards recognized by the WTO into national legislation can help assure high levels of food safety for Bangladesh’s 160 million citizens and realize the country’s full potential as a major exporter of food commodities. “Codex standards provide the ideal benchmark for harmonization”, he said.

Working for safer food

The BFSA was specifically created in 2015, under the Food Safety Act of 2013, to ensure food safety for the citizens of Bangladesh and to regulate and monitor the production, processing, storage, sale and import of food products. These activities are currently fragmented between different Ministries and agencies co-ordination, enforcement and accountability all require strengthening. An FAO project “Institutionalization of Food Safety in Bangladesh for Safer Food”, which is funded by USAID, is being implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Food.

The Prime Minister of Bangladesh has made food safety a priority and all stakeholders will need to cooperate in what was described in Dhaka as a “nation-building exercise”.