Swaziland: Govt embarks on food safety control project

Source of Article:  http://www.observer.org.sz/main.php?id=48635&section=Business

By Teetee Zwane

GOVERNMENT has embarked on a project aimed at developing an effective food safety control management system.

"Many times our agricultural products have been rejected in the international market because of non-compliance with required standards," noted Ministry of Agriculture Principal Secretary Dr. Robert Thwala.

Speaking during the official launch of the SADC SPS/Food Safety capacity building workshop at Mphophoma, he said it was imperative that the country develops an effective food safety control management system so as to protect the health of consumers as well as be able to participate in regional and international trade.

He said the project, which aims at supporting national food safety control systems, would assist the country in upgrading its regulatory framework, infrastructure and human resource capacity.

"Food safety is a shared responsibility involving farmers, processors, industry, retailers and distributors, hence we have stakeholders from different institutions who are involved in food safety along the food chain," said the PS.

"Food safety impacts on all stages from production to consumption so we have to work in partnership as public, private sectors to address issues of safe food, plant and animal health."

Dr. Thwala said as a member of all international standard setting bodies under the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Swaziland had an obligation to follow the requirements stated in the SPS Agreement.

He said this required the country to develop a food safety system that would ensure the health of the population and that policy decisions were based on scientific evidence.

The PS said government had established a National Coordinating Committee that would be responsible for implementation of food safety activities, which would include harmonisation of food safety control regulations, guidelines and procedures.

He noted that it would not be easy to accomplish the project goals considering that the activities of food safety control management were fragmented, with different institutions involved.

The PS noted that in carrying out the project, determination, patience and diligence would be needed to change existing attitudes in the different structures that deal with food safety.

Dr. Thwala expressed gratitude towards the SADC region for initiating what he said was an important project, which if taken seriously, was going to assist in meeting some of the millennium development goals (MDGs).

"The time has come where we have to make a concerted effort and work together in addressing issues that are pertinent to our health and livelihoods," he said.



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