A Comprehensive Approach to Tackling Food Safety in Asia

Food safety is a multi-sectoral challenge, and a regional approach to food policy, driven by private and public interests, will enhance protection of consumers and suppliers in the region, concluded a panel on public-private collaboration to develop food safety and quality assurance solutions during the recent Siem Reap Policy Forum.

Ms Nicola Bonnefoy, FIA’s Food Safety Manager, led the panel discussion with leaders from Bioglobal Consultancy Ltd., FIA, and FIA member companies GS1 and Waters Corporation. Focused on the topic of driving forward the food safety agenda, with particular focus on the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), speakers presented these four methods for sustainable, inclusive and targeted solutions to food safety challenges:

1. Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS), a quality assurance certification system
2. A robust track-and-trace traceability system to effectively facilitate cross-border trade
3. The private sector’s role in harmonising the food safety regulatory framework
4. As part of laboratory capacity-building, selection of the right technical and technological solutions for water and food safety in the GMS


Mr Christopher May, Managing Director, Bioglobal Consultancy Ltd., shares about Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) during the Siem Reap Policy Forum in Siem Reap, Cambodia, on 6 September 2017.

Mr Christopher May, Managing Director, Bioglobal Consultancy Ltd., opened the session with a look at PGS and cases of successful implementation. He noted that there were several Food Safety Quality Assurance options covering farm production, such as Organic and Global Global Agriculture Practices (GAP), Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) GAP, Cambodia (CAM) GAP, and more. He outlined the importance of working with governments to develop policies that are supportive to organic agriculture and food safety through PGS, as well as other initiatives to support smallholder farmers in certifying their products.


Mr Patrik Jonasson, Director, Public Policy Asia-Pacific, GS1, speaks on traceability systems during 
the Siem Reap Policy Forum in Siem Reap, Cambodia, on 6 September 2017.

Mr Patrik Jonasson, Director, Public Policy Asia-Pacific, GS1, spoke on the importance of a framework for designing and implementing traceability systems for increased trust in products and supply chains. He also discussed raising industry awareness of supply chain standards for traceability.


Mr Kim Keat Ng, Chairman, FIA’s Science and Technical Committee, discusses the private sector's role in public-private collaboration to harmonise food safety regulatory frameworks during the Siem Reap Policy Forum in Siem Reap, Cambodia on 6 September 2017.

Highlighting the importance of harmonised food safety standards, Mr Kim Keat Ng, Chairman, FIA’s Science and Technical Committee, discussed the harmonisation framework in ASEAN, where regional governments have made efforts to harmonise food safety standards and facilitate trade by working with the private sector. Mr Ng noted the importance of establishing a risk communication model based on the management of building trust in the food supply chain, highlighting the need for a risk-based approach and the importance of adopting international standards, such as the Codex Alimentarius.


Dr Paul Young, Senior Director, Government Affairs, Waters Corporation, discusses technical and technological solutions to drive water and food safety during the Siem Reap Policy Forum in Siem Reap, Cambodia, on 6 September 2017.

Finally, Dr Paul Young, Senior Director, Government Affairs, Waters Corporation, discussed laboratory food safety testing, stating, however, that this method alone is not a solution for delivering safe food. It does, nonetheless, play a critical role in demonstrating that control procedures are effective and are being applied; serving as the first line of defence in response to crises and overcoming technical barriers to trade; and, when carried out “effectively”, plays a key role in building trust and faith in the control systems – primarily shaping the perceptions of consumers and trading partners.

To fulfill these critical functions, Dr Young emphasised that testing must be carried out according to best practices. He added that scalable and sustainable lab capacity-building is one area in which the public and private sectors can come together in the GMS, in order to deliver a quick win and lay the groundwork for a robust network of labs to support the food safety systems in the region as they evolve.

The presentations and discussion were part of the Siem Reap Policy Forum organised by FIA, in conjunction with the GMS Working Group on Agriculture (GMS WGA), which tied in with The Second GMS Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting (GMS AMM-2) that took place 6-8 September 2017 in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The GMS WGA includes the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the agriculture ministries of the six GMS countries: the Kingdom of Cambodia; People’s Republic of China, specifically Yunnan province and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region; Lao People’s Democratic Republic; Republic of the Union of Myanmar; Kingdom of Thailand; and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

The policy forum facilitated the discussion on food safety, quality assurance, and inclusive and sustainable agro-based value chains in the GMS, and served as a concrete step toward the implementation of the GMS Safe & Environment-Friendly Agro-based Value Chain Policy (SEAP) Strategy and Siem Reap Action Plan for 2018-2022. In addition to topics of public-private collaboration and food safety quality assurance, speakers discussed opportunities in the areas of innovations to reduce loss and waste in supply, innovations in the production of safe and high-quality food in an inclusive and sustainable manner, and allied sectors such as tourism and environment.


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