With support from the New Zealand Aid Programme, Mekong Institute (MI) organized a five-day online regional training on “Food Safety Emergency Management (FSEM) in the Supply Chain,” which was attended by 22 participants from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam (CLMV) on October 18 to 22, 2021.
FSEM is a situation identified by competent authorities as constituting a serious and uncontrolled risk to public health that requires urgent action. Our food supply chain is no stranger to food safety emergencies of a global scale such as the Melamine in Milk Scandal of 2008, the dioxin contamination of dairy and poultry products, fipronil (pesticide) in egg and C. botulinum in milk.
A full-blown food safety emergency costs the food industry hundreds of millions of dollars without taking into account loss of lives and hospitalization. Major food safety emergencies have been known to cause businesses to permanently close down as a result of crippling fines and loss of reputation.
World Health Organization (WHO) assessments show that developing countries need improvements in food safety incident reporting and management to ensure that these do not become an emergency situation. Measures such as a well-documented Food Safety Emergency Response Plan and Recalls are helpful to mitigate outbreaks of foodborne diseases in the supply chain. Such measures aim to instill confidence in the national food system among consumer and trading partners.
Ms. Maria Theresa S. Medialdia, MI Director of Agricultural Development and Commercialization, stressed that a functional and effective national food control system is important, and this includes being prepared for food safety emergencies.
Resource persons from WHO International Food Safety Authorities Network and the ASEAN Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed shared knowledge and practical examples in strengthening food safety emergency management at the organizational and national levels.
At the end of the training, participants will be able to develop their own food safety emergency response plans with technical guidance from MI and experts.
MI’s PROSAFE project builds capacities of food safety stakeholders to help strengthen the agri-food sector, which is a key economic sector in the CLMV.