Global Partnership Makes Great Strides to Boost Food Safety in China

 
Now in its third year of operation, the Global Food Safety Partnership (GFSP) has firmly established its role as a driving force for improving the safety of the global food supply chain. A recent update from GFSP Secretariat at the World Bank outlined the extent to which the Partnership has expanded its capacity-building exercises in food safety training and technical support in 2014, with many of its activities taking place in Asia. FIA and its members are active supporters of GFSP in the region, and continue to strengthen their engagement, especially in China and ASEAN. Highlights from this year include positive steps towards the implementation of a multi-sector food safety capacity-building plan in China and the development of an aquaculture safety training programme in Malaysia, as well as progress on several technical capabilities and functions.

In-country activities

In China, GFSP Leaders have engaged the country’s newly restructured Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as other government agencies, international organisations and the food industry to work towards a major action plan for capacity building in food safety. This initiative presents a unique opportunity for a wide scale public-private partnership, which includes contributions from a diverse group of local and international stakeholders. A World Bank and UN-led delegation held successful meetings in Beijing in March 2014, which led to a preliminary agreement with the Chinese Government on the country’s needs in food safety capacity building. GFSP has been working towards defining and implementing an action plan that would direct energy and investment into the needs of the Chinese food safety system.

Discussions in China are also underway with a group of private sector representatives to initiate a training programme for SME suppliers to the food industry under the guidance of the GMA’s Science & Education Foundation (GMA) and the Shanghai Jiao Tong University Collaboration Platform. This initiative will extend best-practice HACCP training undertaken by GFSP in China and Vietnam, with a view to establishing a sustainable train-the-trainer programme. Once up and running, this project will be incorporated into GFSP’s larger scale food safety capacity building programme.

Elsewhere in Asia, GFSP has been working with the Global Aquaculture Alliance and the Responsible Aquaculture Foundation to develop a Malaysia Aquaculture Food Safety Training Programme. Discussions are currently being held with Malaysia-based aquaculture producers, associations and service providers to establish a local platform for sustainable capacity building.

Meanwhile, a major piece of work has been initiated in Africa in the form of a National Food Safety Capacity Development Needs Assessment in Zambia. The assessment includes an FAO-led assessment of the National Food Control Systems and a synchronised analysis of selected value chains. In what is evidently an effective multi-sector partnership, the results will be integrated with analyses provided by a number of donors and organisations, to form a comprehensive and consistent set of recommendations.

Progress on needs and risk assessment, controls and curriculum development

The UK Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA) has published a report in consultation with GFSP and other key organisations, which outlines a framework for international food safety laboratories’ training and capacity building. The framework will lead to the development of a comprehensive set of laboratory training resources to be supported under the GFSP and starting with a few pilot programmes to demonstrate the utility and efficiency of this approach.

GFSP has also led the development of a report on available chemical risk assessment capacity building tools. A resulting consultation has focused on the development of a global module and GFSP will consider the working group and report author’s recommendations.

Earlier this year, a concept note describing a possible GFSP initiative to address aflatoxin control was developed and presented to a small group of international experts for feedback. The note has also been shared with all four GFSP advisory working groups for their comment. More work is needed to refine the approach for GFSP to this problem, but further action is currently on hold pending availability of resources.

GFSP is involved in an initiative led by the International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) to identify gaps in food safety curricula. The initiative also identifies needs in building capacity and establishing and harmonising core competencies at the higher education levels. A working group focusing on core competencies has been established and three benchmarking surveys have been developed to provide data on the current status of food safety programming. The survey results will be released by December 2014. As part of this exercise, a food safety graduate database has also been developed for use as a pool of expertise for training and education programs worldwide.

FIA and GFSP collaboration

FIA is supporting the GFSP activities in China through a project to map food safety training providers in China. The project serves to create a registry of existing training activities and build connections to support the information exchange about course providers in China. FIA is also working with GMA SEF and GFSP in the development of the project outlined above to launch a regional food safety training programme for suppliers supported by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University Collaboration Platform.

FIA is an active contributor to a number of GFSP Working Groups, including the GFSP Leadership Group; GFSP Food Safety Technical Working Group; GFSP Knowledge and Learning Systems Working Group; and the GFSP Communications Working Group. FIA Representatives will travel to the forthcoming GFSP meetings to be held in Montreal, Canada on 14-15 August 2014 and later, to the GFSP 3rd Annual Conference, on 8-12 December in Cape Town, South Africa. For further information about any of these meetings and projects, please contact the FIA Secretariat at info@foodindustry.asia.


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