Delegations from the governments and academia of various Asian Productivity Organisation (APO) member countries have gathered in Vientiane to learn and share experiences on food safety regulations and related issues.
Director General, Department of Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion, Mr Bountheung Douangsavanh and Programme Officer, Agriculture Department, APO, Dr Asaithambi Manickam are chairing the workshop which has attendees from Laos, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Iran, Fiji, Mongolia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh.
The five-day workshop from December 16-20 aims to review recent trends in food safety regulations and share successful examples of rules that strengthen national control system for improving food safety, worker productivity and public health.
The workshop is also analysing the key emerging food safety challenges and identifying necessary actions and strategies to address the current and future issues in ensuring food safety in member countries.
“Nowadays, the safety and integrity of the food supply is an important requirement for consumers in all countries,” Mr Bountheung said.
“Consumers are taking an unprecedented interest in the way food is produced, processed, marketed and are increasingly calling for their governments to accept greater responsibility for food safety and consumer protection,” he said.
Food safety is no longer simply a public health issue; it is also a market development issue.
The focus on food safety in international trade and trade agreements had also made it a trade issue for many developed and developing countries alike, Mr Bountheung said.
Food safety issues have attracted international attention because they play an increasingly important role in determining whether developing countries can access export markets.
At the same time, food suppliers in developing countries faced the challenge of improving food safety for their growing urban middle classes, and the large burden of disease that poor food safety generates in developing countries was more widely appreciated, he commented.
Because developing countries produce and consume more perishable foods than before, such as meat, milk, fish and eggs, food safety has become especially important to domestic consumers and in trade among developing countries.
Since food safety regulations were a scientific discipline describing the handling, preparation and storage of food in ways that prevent foodborne illness, there was a need to work toward a critical mass of relevant government officers, associations and private sector managers in the food safety regulatory framework to strengthen public health, Mr Bountheung explained.
“We believe that it is very important to analyse the situation and review the recent trends in food safety, food security in all sectors of member economies and agriculture is no exception,” he added.
Laos became a party member of APO in 2002 and has received further assistance from APO in promoting productivity by sending government and private staff to participate in seminars, workshops, training, study tours and exchange experience domestically and overseas on least 60 projects.
The APO has also provided some funding and technical assistance to train model companies and factories in using tools and techniques to increase productivity in Laos.
During the workshop, participants will have the opportunity to tour model Lao factories.