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POLICY & REGULATIONS

World Bank consultant Macrae recommends overseas engagements for FSSAI
Tuesday, 08 August, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Ashwani Maindola, New Delhi
In a report, Donald Macrae, senior consultant, regulatory reform, World Bank Group, suggested that the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) have international engagements with middle-income countries, like China, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Vietnam, to learn global best practices.

The apex food regulator, which is taking stock of the major food challenges and contentious issues faced by the country, had sought the advice on the Global Food Safety Partnership (GFSP) - a public-private initiative of the World Bank Group, on which Macrae is an expert - regarding the same.

Pawan Kumar Agarwal, chief executive officer, FSSAI, said, “This study was undertaken to understand the areas where India could engage with other countries.” He added that the report about where India’s food safety ecosystem stood vis-a-vis global best practices.

“Also, it underlines how we can collaborate with the other countries and what could be the areas and subjects of the collaborations between the two sides,” Agarwal said, informing that India currently has a collaborative programme going on with the Netherlands on the antimicrobial resistance issue.

“And several such programmes will be identified along with countries to further up the food safety ecosystems,” he added. The report said most of the engagements FSSAI already had were with developed countries, including Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the United States.

The reason for suggesting that similar partnerships be extended to middle-income countries is that they were facing similar issues as India and have successfully moved through them.

The report also looked at international engagements with low-income countries, especially those in the regional trading blocs that India was a party to, with a view to what FSSAI could teach.

“FSSAI has two main reasons for international engagement. One is its international obligations, concerned with trade and with standards. The other is being aware of what is happening in other countries, in order to know both what problems may be coming its way and also what trends or innovations it can benefit from,” it stated.

It added, “India’s hosting of the Asia Coordinating Committee puts it in a leadership role for the region and this is picked up in Goal 5 of the National Codex Committee’s Strategic Plan, which is to improve the Codex profile of India and provide innovative leadership in the region.”

The report also dealt with proprietary food, suggesting that FSSAI could learn from some of the initiatives taken by countries like the United Kingdom with its British Retail Consortium (BRC), Germany and France with their food industries’ international food standards, Australia with its Safe Quality Food (SQF), Global G A P of the European Union (EU) and the Food Safety Standards Certification (FSSC) 22000.

It added, “The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) is an attempt to bridge these major proprietary standards that dominate the global market. It benchmarks all these standards and provides certification that can meet whichever of these standards a retailer demands.”

The report also spoke about risk communication, stating that there was a greater need for genuine communication between relevant parts of the government, both central and local, so that the public message was actually believed and practised further down in the organisation.
 
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