Sécurité sanitaire et qualité des aliments

Strengthening food safety incident management and sense of community



Through various interactive discussion sessions, the Second Global Meeting of Joint FAO/WHO International Food Safety Authority Network (INFOSAN) strengthened the sense of community among the 300 participants from 135 countries on 9-11 December 2019, as described in the newly released report. Held in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, the meeting was hosted by the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority (ADAFSA) and co-organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The report outlines the various sessions of the meeting, which was about bringing together INFOSAN members to discuss recent developments of the network, reinforcing relationships, exchanging experiences and inspiring actions to strengthen INFOSAN.

The meeting participants recognized the INFOSAN Global meeting as a trusted and unique forum for food safety managers to exchange views on food safety incidents and emerging opportunities and challenges. The three-day gathering fostered the willingness to build further intergovernmental collaboration to tackle global food safety issues.

“While creating a trustworthy collaborative environment takes time, it is critical to build a strong community of practice among the members, in particular in this globalized world,” said Caroline Merten, Scientific Officer, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA); INFOSAN Advisory Group Member.

Experiences of some regional initiatives were shared during the event including the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Rapid Alert System for Food (RASF) [GCC-RASF] and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) [ARASFF]. It is important to build synergies among regional systems, ensuring consistency in the contact points and cross-sharing of information with INFOSAN. This building of synergies also highlights the role of INFOSAN as a ‘network of networks’, connecting food safety professionals from across the world.

Regional breakout sessions provided opportunities for member countries to meet the regional colleagues in person and to discuss the issues that they are facing and the way forward to overcome barriers that limit the active participation in INFOSAN. While there are common challenges that many countries have been facing, the differences exist between regions, which reaffirms the necessity of country/ regional specific support.

“Members’ understanding of roles and responsibilities has improved, including those as Emergency Contact Points and Focal Points," said Kosuke Shiraishi, INFOSAN Secretariat, FAO Food Safety and Quality Unit. The meeting provided a unique opportunity for participants to directly discuss with FAO and WHO INFOSAN Secretariat during breaks over the three days, where practical instructions on various activities were provided such as nomination of new focal points by national institutions and effective use of the INFOSAN Community Website. This aspect contributed to one of the meeting outcomes, i.e. improved members’ understanding of their roles and responsibilities and interactions with other networks.

“We will continuously support member countries to more actively participate in the INFOSAN activities and deal with foodborne diseases more effectively," said Cornelia Boesch, INFOSAN Secretariat, FAO Food Safety and Quality Unit. FAO and WHO will leverage their respective expertise to support the development of member countries’ capacities to contribute to and participate in INFOSAN.

Read the report: http://www.fao.org/3/ca8587en/ca8587en.pdf 

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