Food Hygiene

Implementation of the 10 point regional strategy for food safety in the WHO Southeast Asia Region

Implementation of the 10-point regional strategy for food safety in the south-east asia region

Nutrition and food safety unit,  Department of family health and research, Who regional office for south-east asia

The Ten-Point Regional Strategy for Food Safety in the South-East Asia Region[1] (summarized in Annex 1) had been developed, as the result of a Regional Consultation on Development of a Strategic Plan for Food Safety[2] in 1998. The strategy covers the issues of food safety policy, food legislation, food control and inspection, analytical capability, epidemiological system, establishing working relationships with the food industry and trade, establishing working relationships with food service providers and retailers, establishing effective relationships with consumers, education and training in food safety, and research in food safety. Since then, such strategy has been implemented in the Member States and remains the corner stone for enhancing food safety in the Region.

In 2000, a follow-up survey[3] suggested that only few countries had made significant progress. At that time, food safety programmes dramatically varied among Member States and the Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP) system was limitedly integrated into food regulation and inspection limited. Major concerns thus were the adequacy and relevance of food legislation and regulations, and the need for technical assistance, resource, and capacity building. Later that year, the 10-Point Regional Strategy was endorsed by the Fifty-third Session of the Regional Committee in resolution SEA/RC53/R7, in which Member States were encouraged to adopt the 10-point strategy as a framework for national food safety programme development and provide adequate resources to establish and strengthen food safety programmes emphasizing on preventive approaches. Requests had been made to the Regional Office to support the implementation of the Regional Strategy for Food Safety, provide technical assistance, and support capacity building in food safety programmes of Member States.

In accordance with the Regional Committee Resolution, a Regional Consultation on Food Safety[4] was held in 2001 to review implementation of the 10-Point Regional Strategy on Food Safety and other food safety issues in the Region. The consultation addressed the needs of capacity building with support from the Regional Office, updating and revision of food legislation, establishment of national food safety body, establishment of databases for contamination monitoring and foodborne disease surveillance, review of inspectors’ qualifications and training, development of risk communication strategy, and studies for assessment of exposure of consumers to chemical contaminants in food. The importance of research in identifying priority foodborne hazards was also recognized by the consultation. A meeting on the strategic planning of food safety was also held in the same year by headquarters, followed by the launch of WHO Global Strategy for Food Safety in 2002.

In 2004, a Regional Conference on Food Safety for Asia and Pacific[5] was held under FAO/WHO collaboration to address the needs of policy guidance and capacity building in food safety for all countries of the Asian and Pacific Region. A regional network of national food safety focal points and a network of food safety authorities, i.e. International Food Authority Network (INFOSAN), were established as a result of such meeting.

The Fifty-ninth Session of Regional Committee in 2006 decided in resolution SEA/RC59/23 to hold Technical Discussions in Nutrition and Food Safety in the South-East Asia Region in the succeeding year. The discussions[6] led to the adoption of resolution SEA/RC60/R3 at the 60th Session of the Regional Committee in 2007 calling for the development of integrated national nutrition and food safety policy and plan of action, initiation of action-oriented research and studies, establishment of monitoring and surveillance system on food safety, education of target groups/stakeholders, and resources provided by the governments to sustain the programmes. The Technical Discussions group recommended WHO to provide support and technical leadership to Member States for the development of a national policy and plan of action, assist in developing evidence-based food safety programme actions, assessment, monitoring, and surveillance, estimate economic burden caused by foodborne disease, establish information networking and sharing mechanism in the Region, and ensure adequate resources. The Regional Office was also requested to monitor and report the progress in implementation of food safety policy and plans of action in the Region to the Sixty-third Session of the Regional Committee in 2010.

Latest follow-up survey[7] was conducted in 2008 to determine the situation of food safety in the Region and findings were summarized in a report of Food Safety Unit at the Regional Office[8]. The report highlighted the needs of more commitment towards the implementation of the regional strategy, development of integrated national food safety plans of action, food safety policy and legislation updates, establishment of integrated monitoring and surveillance systems, attention on food markets and food for domestic consumption, and translation of research results into policy.

Food safety has been addressed as a strategic objective[9] for 2008–2013, which focuses mainly on developments and capacity building of integrated food safety and nutrition policies and effective national food control systems. It is proposed to (i) develop networking and coordination and build leadership at country, regional and global levels; (ii) produce food safety standards, guidelines or training materials; and (iii) establish and strengthen systems for surveillance, prevention and control of foodborne diseases and food hazard monitoring and evaluation programmes.

Recently, the Executive Board at its 124th session agreed to include food safety on the provisional agenda of the Sixty-second World Health Assembly in 2009 where a decision was made to postpone the discussion to the 126th session of the Executive Board in early 2010. The documents for provisional agenda is being updated and finalized[10].

In November 2009, an external review for food safety programme in Thailand[11] was conducted with support from the Regional Office. The expert team looked into various aspects of the food safety programme, i.e. policy and legislation, food control management, inspection and surveillance system, and food safety education and communication. Several Member States are now proposed to have the similar review.


[1] WHO/SEARO. 10-point strategy for food safety in the South-East Asia Region. New Delhi, World Health Organization Regional Office for South-East Asia, 1999.

[2] Regional Consultation on Development of a Strategic Plan for Food Safety in the South-East Asia Region, 27-30 October 1998, New Delhi, India

[3] Food safety in the South-East Asia Region by Dr Deon Mahoney, January 2001

[4] Regional Consultation on Food Safety in South-East Asia Region, 8-10 August 2001, New Delhi, India

 

[5] FAO/WHO Regional Conference on Food safety for Asia and the Pacific, 24-27 May 2004, Seremban, Malaysia

[6] Technical Discussions on Nutrition and Food Safety in the South-East Asia region, 11-13 April 2007, New Delhi, India

[7] Situational analysis of food safety in SEARO Countries 2008 by Dr Nugroho Abikusno, September 2008

[8] Food safety in South East Asia: an overview by Dr Alex von Hildebrand, October 2008

[9] WHO Medium-Term Strategic Plan 2008–2013, Strategic Objective 9: To improve nutrition, food safety and food security, throughout the life-course, and in support of public health and sustainable development

[10] Document EB126/11, Executive Board 126th Session, Provisional agenda item 4.8, Food safety—Report by the Secretariat, November 2009

[11] WHO/FAO External Review of Thailand Food Safety Programme, 27 October-7 November 2009, Bangkok, Thailand

 

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Written by geraldmoy

February 25, 2011 at 2:00 pm