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ADB helps countries improve food safety infrastructure

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By Joe Whitworth+



Agriculture ministers in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) in Asia have endorsed a five-year strategy to boost the food safety system.

It will be based on science-based standards, product tracing and information sharing, especially on hazard lists for key commodities.

According to the World Health Organization in 2015 Africa and Southeast Asia had the highest incidence of foodborne illnesses.

Outbreaks in GMS resulted from melamine in the PRC and antibiotic and hormone residues in livestock and fishery products in Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

Veng Sakhon, Cambodia’s Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said food safety, like food security is a human right for all.

“The 2018-2022 GMS Strategy and Siem Reap Action Plan will help us become a leading supplier of safe and environment-friendly agricultural products.”

Most GMS countries have adopted food safety regulations but many areas are hampered by limited infrastructure and capacity to do effective control.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) hosts the Secretariat of the GMS, which is Cambodia, the People’s Republic of China (Yunnan Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region), the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

Ramesh Subramaniam, director general of ADB’s Southeast Asia Department, said it will help countries improve food safety infrastructure and establish the regulatory frameworks for common risk assessment, risk management and information sharing.

“With the GMS countries’ shared borders and increasingly connected agriculture supply chains, they are well-positioned to supply safe and quality food with reduced environment footprint to its Southeast Asian neighbors and the world.”

The meeting, the second in a decade, also included a public-private dialogue co-sponsored by Food Industry Asia. Public-private collaborations are planned to upgrade technical skills on control systems and standards.

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