Bandar Seri Begawan (The Brunei Times/ANN) - The issue of food safety emerging as a significant global issue with international trade and public health implications in the last decade was highlighted by the Deputy Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR) yesterday.
Speaking during the opening ceremony for the 14th Meeting of the ASEAN Consultative Committee on Standard and Quality - Prepared Foodstuff Product Working Group (ACCSQ-PFPWG), Md Riza Dato Paduka Hj Md Yunos stressed that "it is vital that ASEAN regard food safety as a qualitative measure in ensuring that ASEAN foods are synonymous with quality and safety."
"As a result, this will surely increase our (ASEAN) competitiveness within and outside the region," he said in his speech.
In ensuring food safety and quality, the deputy permanent secretary called for the concerted efforts of ASEAN member countries in the Prepared Foodstuff Product Working Group (PFPWG) to make it realistic with the following programmes: Exchange of information on the existing regulations in member countries related to prepared foodstuff, Review and preparation of a comparative study of regulatory regimes among member countries; Identification of areas for possible harmonisation and Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA); Development of sectoral Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA); Identification of the technical infrastructure needs and Building-up mutual confidence in testing and conformity assessment results.
ASEAN, the world's third largest regional trade after the European Union and North American Free Trade with a total import and export trade amounting to $376,207 million in 2009 alone, the deputy permanent secretary said that through PFPWG establishment, it will "promote ASEAN Economic Community to create a stable, prosperous and highly competitive ASEAN economic region by 2015."
He said that Brunei has benefited through the participation of the working group where the networking activity provided Brunei with a better view and understanding on other ASEAN Member States' (AMSs') technical development, especially towards their stand and guidelines on food safety which can be very much useful to Brunei."
According to the press release by MIPR, the PFPWG is assisting towards the elimination of technical barriers to trade for prepared foodstuff, particularly in areas pertaining to low risk prepared foodstuff products.
MIPR, through its Strategic Trust Programme, is initiating to enhance its capability in ensuring the quality and safety aspect of food products in Brunei meet international standards.
The 14th Meeting of ACCSQ-PFPWG yesterday was preceded by the 3rd ASEAN Food Testing Reference Laboratory Experts Meeting, the 6th Meeting of the Task Force on Harmonisation of Prepared Foodstuff Standards and 3rd Meeting of the Task Force on Development of MRA for Prepared Foodstuff.
The Meeting was attended by eight countries of ASEAN; Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, including representatives from the ASEAN Secretariat.
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