FIA and World Bank to Scale-up Food Safety Development in the Region

Food Industry Asia (FIA) has signaled its commitment to help scale-up food safety capacity building in China and the ASEAN region, with the signing of an agreement with the World Bank for the Global Food Safety Partnership (GFSP) and making an initial contribution of US$150,000.

As the world’s food economy expands and international supply chains grow more complex, many countries in Asia are facing challenges in food safety capacity.

While the vast majority of food is delivered safely to our tables, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that foodborne and waterborne diarrhoeal disease kill an estimated 2 million people annually, including many children, and particularly in developing countries. Where food supplies are insecure, economic progress is inhibited; people tend to shift to less healthy diets and consume more “unsafe foods” – in which chemical, microbiological and other hazards pose health risks.

Since 2010, FIA has successfully united the leading food & beverage companies around three key challenges of food safety, harmonisation and health & nutrition, forming meaningful tri-sector partnerships across Asia.

FIA members representing the food industry in Asia and beyond have recognised that the best way to tackle food safety effectively on a global scale is through multi-sectoral partnerships where knowledge can be cascaded freely to those in most need. In particular, FIA has been an active player and a key supporter of the Global Food Safety Partnership (GFSP), convened by the World Bank. Since the creation of the GFSP in 2012 to improve capacity-building and training programmes for food safety practitioners in both the public and private sector, FIA has worked to ensure that this initiative is well-informed and responsive to the needs of the food and beverage sector in the region.

According to FIA President, Mr Amit Banati, the landmark agreement between the World Bank and Asia’s leading food industry association signals an important milestone in the private sector’s commitment to invest in a strong food safety culture in Asia.

“By signing this agreement in the presence of leaders from the World Bank, the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the China Food & Drug Administration and global industry partners, we are reaffirming FIA’s role as a valuable partner to businesses and governments in Asia as we seek to scale up our collaborative efforts to strengthen food safety systems. We are delighted to be part of this unique global partnership that aims to drive a joined-up food safety agenda especially in China, where there is a real opportunity to build a strong food safety culture between the government and the food industry,” said Mr Banati.

He added, “Over the last five years, FIA has worked with other industry partners to provide significant input into shaping the future of investments in food safety competency development across the entire food supply chain in Asia, including upgrading food safety regulatory systems to meet internationally recognised benchmarks.”

FIA has supported various food-safety capacity building initiatives in ASEAN and China such as the Global Food Safety Conference, held earlier this year in Kuala Lumpur. This event, which was hosted by the Consumer Goods Forum brought together food safety experts from around the globe representing stakeholders from across the supply chain – food retailers, manufacturers and suppliers. Now, with the help of international experts in the UN and other global agencies, the food industry is committed to scaling-up these investments to reduce hazards in global food supply chains and enhance standards across the region.

“We believe wholeheartedly in the power of public-private partnerships of this nature and we wish to throw FIA’s full support behind similar initiatives based on the GFSI Global Markets Programme,” said Matt Kovac, Policy Director at FIA.

“Food Safety is one of FIA’s core pillars and our goal is to stimulate effective multi-stakeholder collaboration in Asia to deliver a positive impact for society. By working together, we know that companies, governments and academic experts can be greater than the sum of their parts. Together, we can join forces to strengthen supply chains, reduce foodborne illness and drive economic growth and prosperity by fostering a safe food culture,” he concluded.

Representatives from FIA, World Bank, UNIDO and CFDA were present at the announcement on 11 September during a high-level meeting at the Vienna Food Safety Forum, where the agreement was signed.

The Vienna Food Safety Forum took place within the context of the newly signed cooperation between UNIDO and CFDA on food safety capacity building in China. The thematic focus of the Forum was to emphasise the multiple benefits of safe food for social inclusiveness, sustainability and industrial development.

In this regard, UNIDO Director General Li Yong indicated that “food safety has a strong impact on inclusive and sustainable industrial development, and has a particular contribution to make to the Sustainable Development Goals that the UN and the International Community will officially endorse this month during the 70th General Assembly Proceedings.”

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