Food Safety Forum provides Vietnamese officials with insight into Australia’s world leading food safety standards
Australian and Vietnamese food safety experts enjoyed a robust exchange of information at the Vietnam-Australia Food Safety Forum in Hanoi on 11 November.
Vice Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Vu Van Tam, opened the Forum highlighting the need for better food safety systems and frameworks to help the Vietnamese agricultural industry increase it global competitiveness, in particular as it prepares for opportunities arising from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Mr Tam is looking to Australia to help Vietnamese agricultural producers improve the quality of their food and beverage products.
Australian agricultural and food experts joined the Forum to share Australia’s experience in building world-leading food safety standards and systems.
“Australia enjoys a world-class reputation as a leader in food safety standards, regulations, systems, processes, equipment and technology”, said Australian Ambassador HE Mr Hugh Borrowman at the opening of the Forum which was attended by over 150 delegates from government, industry and research.
Dr Marion Healy, Deputy CEO and Chief Scientist at Food Standards Australia and New Zealand, provided the delegates with an overview of Australia’s food regulatory framework which includes standards setting under a partnership between government, industry and consumers, policy development, and enforcement at the national, state and territory and local levels.
“The goals of Australia’s food regulatory system are to protect consumer health and safety, provide adequate information to consumers, support public health objectives, and enable a strong sustainable food industry”, explained Dr Healy.
“Australia has moved from a prescriptive approach to setting food standards to a performance and outcomes-based approach that supports the entire food chain production and consumption.”
Industry representatives joined workshops on seafood, animal-origin and plant-origin foods where issues such as the “Paddock to Plate” traceability systems, certification processes, and Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) were discussed with government and industry representatives.
Presentations by Australian industry representatives at the Forum highlighted the responsibility of enterprises in implementing sound food safety practices in their supply chain. Industry codes of practice mean that Australian producers take responsibility and commit to comply with relevant Australian and international regulations.
Education also plays a critical role in building the capability and capacity of an industry to meet food safety standards.
A number of Vietnamese delegates spoke of their visits to Australia to view first-hand the approaches utilised by Australian industry.
A call for further technical visits to Australia by Vietnamese government and industry representatives was made, as was the need to further exchange information on regulatory frameworks from Australia.
The Forum recognised that further exploration of Australian food safety models may fast track food safety improvements in some Vietnamese agricultural industries.
Delegates agreed that the Vietnam-Australia Food Safety Forum was the first step in a journey towards helping Vietnam improve its food safety standards. The Australian Embassy and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will continue discuss avenues for cooperation in the future.
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