2-4 May, Paro: Thirty eight officials are attending the first consultative workshop to develop a set of potential national food safety indicators with a One Health approach that can be used to assess the effectiveness of the national food safety systems.
The goal of strengthening the national food control system was discussed during the FAO regional workshop on food safety indicators in the Asia Pacific held in Singapore where participants from the member countries finalised around 40 draft food safety indicators. Bhutan along with Cook Island, Philippines and South Korea volunteered to conduct the pilot projects to develop the national food safety indicators and verify its usefulness.
Although, the Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) has been continuously implementing the food safety measure throughout the country to ensure public health, there are no indicators to measure how far we have improved in terms of food safety.
The development of food safety indicators will help Bhutan to review its current status of food safety, help identify the areas that need interventions and serve as a tool to mobilise resources for food safety. A technical working group has been also formed to ensure that the Bhutan adopts the best suitable food safety indicators.
BAFRA is the national food control authority in the country. It carries out the border control inspections, inspect trade outlets for food safety and ensure that food processing businesses comply with food safety and hygiene standards as per the Food Act of Bhutan 2005. However, the act does not provide provisions for undertaking surveillance of food hazards or stipulate a risk-based approach to prevent, detect or control food hazards along the food supply chain.
According to a spokesperson, the existing capacities and infrastructure required to handle adverse food safety issues in terms of knowledge, awareness, technology and human resource are currently low in Bhutan. As a result many food borne illness and outbreak often go unrecognised, unreported or uninvestigated. Therefore, BAFRA is in the process of revising the Food Act of Bhutan with a proactive and risk based approach to ensure food safety in the country where the food safety indicators will play a crucial role.
The Director General for BAFRA graced the workshop opening along with the Country Representative from FAO, Bhutan. The workshop is being facilitated by Dr. Masami Takeuchi with fund support from FAO. Participants are from the health, Queen’s Project, Bhutan Standards Bureau, trade, College of Natural Resources, marketing, livestock, agriculture and BAFRA.
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