Global Food Safety Forum to Tackle Food Safety in Vietnam

The Global Food Safety Forum (GFSF) recently announced its plans to provide services to the food industry and collaborate with government agencies to advance food safety in Vietnam.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have both reported that food safety controls are undermined by fragmented legislation, multiple jurisdictions and weaknesses in surveillance, monitoring and enforcement.

Taking these issues on food safety into consideration, Dr Rick Gilmore, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of GFSF, said that his organisation will focus on collaboration with government authorities and businesses to strengthen food safety compliance in Vietnam.

“We plan to work closely with local industry to develop cost-effective risk mitigation strategies to ensure the safety and quality of Vietnam's supply chain. Ultimately, the goal in establishing GFSF as a credible and representative non-profit industry organisation is to serve as a catalyst to strengthening food regulatory enforcement within Vietnam, and to build capacity in food safety among consumers, industry and decision makers,” said Dr Gilmore.

“The GFSF model is to develop a public-private platform to advance food safety. In our judgment, this model best offers ways to maximise opportunities for collaboration, information-sharing and outreach, and accelerate improvements in securing a safe and reliable global supply chain.”

Speaking about the current state of food safety legislation in the country, Dr Gilmore said that while there had been commendable progress under the Vietnam Food Administration (VFA), which has overall responsibility for state management of quality along with ministries of health and agriculture, the levels of risk and economic losses remain high for the entire food and seafood supply chain.

“There is food safety architecture in Vietnam, but the constraints are manifold in terms of compliance and overall implementation, which impact bilateral trade with the U.S., as well as multilateral trade. Consumer practices and preferences are another major constraint to the enforcement of food safety measures. The persistence of unmonitored and unhygienic open, traditional street markets, for example, has been identified as a major source of pathogen outbreaks,” added Dr Gilmore.

Speaking further about GFSF Vietnam’s plans for 2016, Dr Gilmore said that the full year of activities will focus on foundation-building, outreach and a major launch event. “We have four main areas of focus for this year. This includes growing industry membership; hosting workshops and training programs; and working with the World Bank’s Global Food Safety Program (GFSP) team for additional education and training opportunities, including the introduction of GFSF e-courses offered in collaboration with JIFSAN (Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition) at the University of Maryland, and internationalising our programs with the support of our strategic partners like Food Industry Asia,” he concluded.

Food Industry Asia (FIA), a partner of GFSF, recognises the power of partnership to scale up food safety capacity to protect food supply chains for the benefit of consumers, businesses and governments in the region. Recently, FIA signed an agreement with the World Bank for the GFSP to help scale up food safety capacity-building in China and the ASEAN region. This unique global partnership 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.