Twenty-four participants from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam are in Mekong Institute this week for the Regional Training Program on Food Safety Risk Communication. This five-day safe food course is the first in a series of training programs this year under the New Zealand Aid Programme-funded PROSAFE Project: Promoting Safe Food for Everyone.
In her opening remarks, Ms. Maria Theresa Medialdia, Director of the Agricultural Development and Commercialization Department, enjoined participants to reflect on the collective roles and responsibilities of government officers, food business owners, the media, consumers, among others, in disseminating information on safe food handling, preparation, and consumption practices. “Raising public awareness increases understanding that safe food is in everyone’s interest because it protects public health and social well-being, as well as improves livelihood by promoting access to markets,” she emphasized.
Representing different local food safety agencies, universities, and consumer organizations in the region, participants will interact with regional experts and learn about the principles of effective risk communication, an important component of national food safety control systems to manage public health risks and hazards. The course also targets to build participants’ skills in engaging consumers and raising public awareness on the value of safer fresh produce. Aside from lectures and interactive group exercises, the course will also feature structured learning visits to GAP-certified farms, packinghouses, and fresh produce market in Khon Kaen.
This training program is among the eight PROSAFE courses that will be offered in 2020. Previous courses on postharvest safe food handling, food safety emergency management, agro-product packaging and labeling, and food hygiene and sanitation will be organized again this year. New programs on risk-based approaches in managing food safety, improving food safety quality infrastructure for market access, and regulating food additives and preservatives are slated to be launched later this year.