Friday, October 18, 2013

At the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry's (FICCI) Food World India 2013, which took place in Mumbai recently, food regulators from India, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the Netherlands concurred that while the introduction of stringent food laws – keeping in mind the safety of consumers – is the need of the hour, doing so would be a difficult task.

Vinod Kotwal, director, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) said, “FSSAI, which came into existence in the year 2008, has very strict and robust food safety standards and guidelines.”

“In order to provide safe food from the farm gate to the consumer's plate, we have set up a science base standards for the food business operators (FBOs), so that safe food can reach the consumers. Even producers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers and wholesalers are consumers of food at large, and therefore, they should think about the safety of the consumers first,” she added.

“The Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006, was implemented on August 5, 2011, and has just completed two years. We have to go a long way and set up more science-based standards consulting the scientific panels and committees,” Kotwal said.

“We need more innovations, new packaging technology, research and development (R&D) support and good labelling rules, and must comply with the standards. Although we have robust food safety laws, we are still trying to strengthen our food safety regulations. We are also taking the help of the developed and other developing countries in order to achieve the goal of strong food safety law,” she added.

The US
Mary Frances Lowe, US Codex manager, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), said that the food safety law in the country was a robust one and kept the safety of consumers in mind the US. She added that USDA provided numerous food safety resources to educate the public about food safety and assist them. These include Residue Information, Food Safety Research,, Ednet and Be Food Safe.

Australia and New Zealand
Speaking on the topic 'Food research reaching markets: Decoding global food safety management system', Greg Read, chair, Codex committee on food import and export inspection and certification systems (CCFICS) Autralia, said setting up strict food guidelines was a difficult task faced by the food regulators, and it would be necessary to maintain a food regulatory system that delivers safe food for the country's population and enables consumers to make informed choices and nutrients.

Urging the public to have confidence in the food regulations, he stated, “Food safety is a difficult ride. Autralia and New Zealand have well-deserved reputations for safe and clean food supply. Food Standards Autralia and New Zealand (FSANZ), while setting up the guidelines for food safety, follow very strict laws.”

“From the industry's point of view, we take into consideration food recalls, food safety standards information, food labelling, novel foods and nutritional panel calculator. And from the consumers' point of view, additives, chemicals in food, food allergies and intolerance, food safety and various other safety-related issues is taken into consideration. We have scientific strategies, and also the expertise, to formulate science-based safety standards,” Read added.

Samuel Godefroy, the Canadian government's Codex vice-chair, stated, “When compared to those of other countries, Canada's food safety standards are the most robust. We know that food safety is the joint responsibility of farmers, food manufacturers, food distributors, food service establishments, retailers consumers and the government, and therefore, we educate all of them so that the consumers get safe and healthy food on their plates.”

Stating that the department of justice was responsible for maintaining the consolidated status and regulations for the government of Canada, he added, “We have brought about many amendments to our recent regulations, and most of the acts and regulations in the new guidelines are current as of August 25, 2013. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is reducing the burden on business and improving services to stakeholders by streamlining regulations and cutting red tape.”

CFIA has been entrusted with the task of enforcing the regulations pertaining to food and related products. It carries out inspections of the premises of FBOs in order to ensure safe and healthy food for the population of Canada,” Godefroy added.

The Netherlands
Martin Weijtens, chair, Codex Committee on Contaminants in Foods (CCCF), the Netherlands, said that the task of the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority was to control the whole production chain, from raw materials and processing aids to end products and consumption.was to monitor food and consumer products in order to safeguard human and animal health and welfare.

He added that the three main tasks of the authority – an independent agency under the auspices of the country's economic affairs ministry, which also acts as a delivery agency for the ministry of health, welfare and sport – were supervision, risk assessment and risk communication.


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