Tunis, 17 July 2018 – The second Workshop on Rapid Alert System in Food and Feed concluded its activities in Tunis, Tunisia, with recommendations to improve the proposed guideline for the use of the system in the Arab region and enhanced collaboration with the International Network of Food Safety Authorities (INFOSAN).
This workshop was initiated under the auspices of the Arab Food Safety Initiative for Trade Facilitation (SAFE), implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and funded by the Government of Sweden. The workshop was also planned in collaboration with the Secretariat of INFOSAN. This workshop enabled to review the proposed guideline for ARASFF developed earlier by the Expert Working Group struck under SAFE. Over 20 participants from the Arab region reviewed the protocols and procedures of the system and participated in simulated situations requiring possible information sharing amongst competent food safety authorities, in the context of food incident management. Participants were also introduced to the INFOSAN community website and contributed to another simulated exercise, where information was relayed through the INFOSAN notification process and where reporting was required both nationally and internationally.
Recommendations were made by participants in support of a clearer set of guidelines for the implementation of ARASFF and its upcoming electronic platform. Similarly, the creation of a community of focal points within the INFOSAN platform was also discussed as a possible catalyst for a stronger contribution of the Arab region in this international network.
Prof. Samuel Godefroy, Professor of Food Risk Analysis and Regulatory Policies at Université Laval, Québec, QC. Canada reiterated “the importance of accurate and rapid information sharing amongst representatives of food regulators in the region as a driver for coordinated and more consistent regulatory decisions in the context of managing a food safety incident”. “A structured and functioning information sharing system within the region is key to preventing discrepancies in food safety decision-making and the resulting trade barriers” he added.
Subsequent to the Workshop, the EWG on ARASFF held its third face-face meeting, which follows several on-line interactions amongst its members over the last period and focussed on updating the proposed guideline for ARASFF, considering the proposed changes made by Workshop participants. The EWG also prepared specific recommendations to the Arab Taskforce on Food Safety (ATF) on the development of the electronic platform of ARASFF.
The Arab Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (ARASFF) is one of the key initiatives implemented as part of the Arab Food Safety Initiative for Trade Facilitation (SAFE)
The Arab Food Safety Initiative for Trade Facilitation (SAFE) is a capacity building project financed by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in collaboration with the League of Arab States (LAS), the Arab Industrial Development and Mining Organization (AIDMO) and the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development (AOAD)