Continuing to Foster a Risk Assessment Capacity to Support Aligned Food Safety Regulatory Decisions @arabsafetrade

Tunis, 19 July 2018 The Expert Working Group on Food Safety Risk Assessment for the Arab Region, concluded its 2-day meeting in Tunis, Tunisia with participation from Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Qatar and Tunisia.


This working group, chaired by Morocco, was struck and has been active since December 2016 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. It aims at developing a food safety risk assessment capacity for the Arab region, to support increased alignment in food regulatory measures between food regulators in the region, as a result of the adoption of science-based decisions.

IMG_3253Meeting participants examined the risk assessment training program to be delivered, as part of SAFE and developed recommendations for its implementation. The EWG also agreed to continue the development of collaborative initiatives in risk assessment capacity building with European food risk assessment institutions such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) etc..

Arab experts reviewed the pilot risk assessment studies to be undertaken in the Arab region, throughout the upcoming year and agreed on their scope: “Salmonella in Broiler chicken”, “Aflatoxins in the Arab diet” and “Ochratoxin A in cereal-derived foods”. The requirements for the calls for data to support these studies were finalized with the aim to attempt to capture as much food occurrence and exposure information as possible from food authorities and academic organizations in the Arab region.

Experts discussed efforts to bolster the food safety risk assessment capacity throughout the Arab region and enable it with the required baseline information for sustainability of investments. A recommendation was made to initiate the development of food consumption data in various Arab sub-regions. At a time where a number of food safety regulatory authorities are initiating this effort, the EWG recommended that SAFE guides this effort with the development of a common set of requirements including an agreed-upon food categorization system as well as guidelines for the implementation of data collection, to enable opportunities of seamless data sharing and the possibility of use of such data throughout the Arab region. Participants reiterated the importance of risk assessment as a key foundation of robust food safety regulatory decisions and the need to further broadening of risk assessment capacity amongst food safety regulators in the Arab region.


The Arab Risk Assessment Initiative 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)


Accurate & Rapid Information Sharing amongst Food Regulators as a Catalyst to Coordinated #Food Regulatory Decisions, through #ARASFF @arabsafetrade

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).

IMG_3250This 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.

IMG_3252Subsequent 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)

IMG_1292The 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)



Dubai International Food Safety Conference to Host #FoodFraud Workshop and Discussions 28-30 October 2018

This food fraud event follows the series of workshops initiated by the Food Risk Analysis and Regulatory Excellence Platform (FRAREP) of the Department of Food Science and the Institute of Nutrition and Functional Foods (INAF) of Université Laval, Québec, QC. Canada, supported by several partners and stakeholders. These workshops were launched in April 2017 in Quebec City Canada, followed by a second event in November 2017 in Beijing, People’s Republic of China, under the theme “Global Understanding of Food Fraud” (GUFF) and aim to support international collaboration amongst the community of stakeholders around food fraud prevention and mitigation. This year’s event is held under the theme “towards collaborative leadership to counter food fraud”.

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The event will host a Workshop (by invitation or upon request only) to be held on October 28th, 2018, with the aim to continue the momentum built during the previous GUFF Workshop Series. This workshop will enable several discussions including a meeting of the Global Coalition on Food Crime, discussions amongst industry leaders on availability and consistency of guidance to prevent and mitigate food fraud, as well as the development of Standard Methods Performance Requirements (SMPR) for Non Targeted testing to be established under the auspices of AOAC INTERNATIONAL.

An Open session dedicated to Food Fraud is planned as part of the Dubai Food Safety Conference (DIFSC)  on Oct 30th, 2018 and will address the following themes:

1- Harmonization of food fraud regulatory policies,

2- Preventive Measures for the Food Industry

3- Risk Communication, information sharing and capacity building

For more information and/or to contribute to the GUFF Workshop 2018 (28 October 2018), please write to us at




Vers le renforcement des politiques réglementaires en #sécuritésanitaire des #aliments en Afrique de l’Ouest


UnknownAbidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), 4 avril 2018  – Un atelier sur l’analyse des risques appliquée aux décisions réglementaires liées aux aliments est organisé dans la capitale Ivoirienne, Abidjan, du 4 au 5 avril 2018. L’atelier réunit des responsables réglementaires des aliments de la Côte d’Ivoire et du Sénégal et est mis en œuvre par la Plateforme d’analyse des risques et d’excellence en réglementation des aliments (PARERA) del’Université Laval, Québec, QC, Canada. Il se tient grâce au soutien du Foreign Agricultural Service du ministère de l’Agriculture des États-Unis d’Amérique (USDA/FAS) et de l’Agence des États-Unis pour le développement international (USAID).

Cet atelier fait partie d’un programme d’interventions ciblées soutenues par ces deux agences américaines et visant le renforcement des capacités dans le développement de politiques réglementaires en Afrique de l’Ouest, en accord avec les meilleures pratiques prônées par la Commission du Codex Alimentarius et des organisations mères, l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS) et l’Organisation des Nations Unies pour l’agriculture et l’alimentation (FAO).

La mise en œuvre de ce programme se fait à un moment où la Côte d’Ivoire, le Sénégal, et la région d’Afrique de l’Ouest dans sa globalité vivent une période de transformations, avec des investissements visant le renforcement de la supervision sur la sécurité sanitaire des aliments, conduisant à la revue, la mise à jour des structures, missions, opérations et capacité des autorités compétentes en sécurité sanitaire des aliments. C’est pourquoi PARERA a élu d’intégrer son action dans le sillage de ces transformations et a entrepris un partenariat stratégique avec le Fonds interprofessionnel pour la recherche et le conseil agricoles (FIRCA), maître d’œuvre du « projet d’appui à la construction d’un système national de contrôle de la sécurité sanitaire » en Côte d’Ivoire, FADCI-SSA.

Cet atelier sera une occasion de passer en revue et de discuter des expériences de prise de décisions réglementaires, sur la base des principes de l’analyse des risques, notamment pour les décisions ayant trait à la sécurité sanitaire des aliments, avec pour objectifs de protéger la santé des consommateurs et de permettre les pratiques loyales du commerce des denrées alimentaires.

L’approche suivie pour la conduite de cet atelier, constituera une innovation. Elle alliera des présentations magistrales et des activités de groupe pendant un jour et demi de rencontre, de même que des interactions en ligne et l’accès à des références utiles avant et après la date de l’atelier, grâce à la plateforme d’apprentissage et de formation à distance de l’Université Laval. « Permettre la durabilité des investissements en développement de compétences et pérenniser les actions entreprises pour renforcer la robustesse de la prise de décisions en matière de sécurité sanitaire des aliments est un des objectifs principaux de notre Plateforme dans sa contribution au Programme soutenu par la USDA-FAS et l’USAID en Afrique de l’Ouest » a déclaré le professeur Samuel Godefroy, professeur en Analyse des risques et politiques réglementaires des aliments à l’Université Laval, qui a occupé précédemment des fonctions exécutives en réglementation des aliments, dont celle de directeur général des aliments à Santé Canada, et qui agit comme un des instructeurs principaux de cet atelier.


D’autres interventions sont prévues subséquemment dans la région, dans les semaines et mois à venir, avec pour objectif la propagation des bonnes pratiques en matière de réglementation des aliments.

Towards Enhanced Food Regulatory Policies Based on #RiskAnalysis in West Africa

UnknownAbidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), April 4 2018

A workshop on food risk analysis applied to food regulatory decisions is being organized in the Ivory Coast capital Abidjan, on 4-5 April 2018. The workshop gathers food regulators from Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal and is implemented by the Food Risk Analysis and Regulatory Excellence Platform (FRAREP) of Université Laval, Quebec, QC, Canada, supported by the Foreign Agricultural Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA/FAS) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The workshop is part of a program of targeted interventions supported by both US agencies and aimed at strengthening capacity in food regulatory policy development in West Africa, in accordance with best practices advocated by the Codex Alimentarius Commission and its parent organizations the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

This initiative is carried out at a time when Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal and the West African region as a whole are witnessing significant investments to enhance food safety regulatory oversight, resulting in reviewing and updating the structure, mandates, operations and capacity of food safety competent authorities. As a result, FRAREP is partnering with the Inter-Professional Fund for Research and Agricultural Counsel (FIRCA), which is leading efforts to renew the national food safety control system (FADCI-SSA) in Cote d’Ivoire.

This workshop will be an opportunity to review, discuss and exchange experiences in the way food regulatory decisions are made and structured thanks to the reliance on risk analysis, as a basis for sanitary measures, taken by food competent authorities with the aim to protect consumers’ health and ensure fair practices in the food trade.

An innovative approach will be applied, combining both lectures and group work during a 1.5-day meeting, as well as online interactions and access to key information before and after the meeting itself, thanks to the Distance Learning Platform of Université Laval. “Sustaining the benefits of investments in capacity development and triggering what may lead to lasting impacts in enabling robust food safety regulatory measures in the region is the aim pursued by our Platform in contributing to the implementation of the capacity development Program supported by the USDA/FAS and USAID in West Africa ” declared Prof. Samuel Godefroy, Professor of Risk Analysis and Regulatory Policies at Université Laval, formerly a senior Canadian food regulator and serving as one of the key instructors of the workshop.

Further interventions are being considered in the region in the near future, with the aim to propagate best practices in food regulatory decisions and in line with international guidelines.


Consistent Guidance on Food Allergen Management is Needed Globally – Time for Codex to Act ?

This article was previously published in the December 2016 -issue of the AOAC International Food Allergen Community – A presentation on this topic was made at the 4th Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Meeting – in 2016.

Over the last 20 years, several actions have been taken by various players with the aim to enhance the protection of food allergic consumers. While several measures targeting the improvement of ingredient labelling, with emphasis on allergenic ingredients, have been harmonized thanks to standards promulgated by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, far more needs to be done in relation to the use of precautionary statements. Allergen precautionary statements continue to be diverse, to be used under different conditions and are not necessarily supported by risk assessment. As a result, these labelling practices are not helpful to consumers.

When one examines the history of food allergen management, it is easy to note that most regulatory measures that were developed at the national level took place after the Codex Alimentarium Commission known as Codex and acting as the international food standard setting body, developed its global standard on food allergen labelling in 1999. Several years werpicture1e required, and expert advice was mobilized at the global level by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to come-up with a set of criteria for the identification of food ingredients that have the potential to be allergenic. These ingredients were then covered by mandatory declaration on food labels.

Several domestic food regulatory policies were then amended and the world witnessed the development of a number of allergen labelling regulations and legislations in Australia/New-Zealand, Europe, the United States of America, Japan, Canada and a number of emerging economies in Latin America and Asia.

All these requirements were based on the Codex Standard and ensured to prevent the omission of declaration of food ingredients known to be priority allergens, when these ingredients are deliberately added to the recipe of a prepackaged food.

This did not however address all issues allergic consumers and their care givers are having with food labels. The propagation of use of allergen precautionary or advisory labeling in the form of “may contain” statements and other iterations is undermining consumers’ confidence and their trust in the reliability of information offered by food labels.

While precautionary statements were initially meant to address situations of possible cross-contamination due to an allergenic ingredient, which cannot be avoided under reasonable food processing conditions, there was no clear guidance as to how they should be applied in a manner that is risk based.

Statements of different types are popping on food labels, with no regard to what they may mean or what they can do to help informing the choice of allergic consumers and their families. Others are being used with no particular justification, other than to “cover a potential liability”. The practice has even led to witnessing precautionary statements on food labels that cover the entire list of priority allergens and that are longer than the list of ingredients itself. No wonder that confusion reigns, not only for consumers, but also amongst the health professional community, whose guidance is sought in helping allergic consumers manage their avoidance of potentially offending foods.

The scientific community acknowledged the problem and agreed that investing in the development of the scientific foundations for a risk-based approach to be applied would contribute to addressing this problem. A decade later, several studies resulted in the generation of thousands of data points related to thresholds for food allergen reactions. Risk assessment methodologies have also been discussed and are being adapted to food allergens as a food hazard. Allergen analytical methods have been developed and are being used to help validate sanitation practices and other quality control and management measures. We have even witnessed the development and adoption of allergen control programs by the food industry sector in an attempt to create “order and structure” as to how allergen advisory labeling should be used.

While food allergen-related recalls continue to top the list of food recalls in North America, Europe and some parts of Australasia, there is limited to no leadership from domestic food regulatory jurisdictions to move forward with clear regulatory measures focusing on allergen precautionary statements. Such measures would be the cornerstone for a more predictable environment for industry and consumers on food allergen management.


Allergen-related recalls continue to top the lost of food recalls – source: 2006-2013 recall data Canadian Food Inspection Agency Website



Learning from history to address this conundrum can be useful in this case. I would argue that like what happened in the 1990s and early 2000s, it is time for Codex and its parent organizations to act. Attention needs to be given to the development of global guidance related to allergen thresholds, allergen precautionary labeling and management of cross-contamination and adventitious presence of priority allergens in food manufacturing. These global standards could then lead the way in driving change in domestic food regulatory requirements in this area, which could then use the legitimacy of the international process. The time has come for Codex to lead again on this issue.

I realize that suggesting such an approach, can be met with cynicism, given how long some international food standards can take in the making. But Codex has also shown that when its membership wants, it can. The first Melamine standards that Codex embarked on developing in 2009, took only one year between decision to act and adoption of the standard, making it the fastest agreed-upon Codex standard to date. Opponents to this approach would also argue that there is currently no interest on the part of Codex to work in this area, nor would there be resources made available. My argument back is that momentum can indeed be created. The case can be made for Codex standards being needed, given the discrepancies of food allergen management policies and their impacts on international food trade. The case can also be made that scientific data has been generated over the past decade or more and could be relied-upon for international expert groups to be convened by FAO and WHO, to guide Codex with the relevant scientific advice. Finally, and should there be a will to act, funding could be mobilized from various government organizations currently struggling to move forward with addressing this issue and who would benefit from pooling resources under the auspices of a collective initiative.

It is possible for history to repeat itself. Twenty (20) years after the initiation of the process that led to allergen labeling measures as we know them influenced by Codex leadership, action leading to renewed international guidance on food allergen management is overdue.

Samuel B. Godefroy, Full Professor, Department of Food Science, Food Risk Analysis and Regulatory Excellence Platform, Institute of Nutrition and Functional Foods (INAF), Université Laval, Québec, QC., Canada &

Global Institute for Food Security, Queen’s University, Belfast, United Kingdom

AOAC International Newsletter – where the article is posted.

Still time to register at the 1st Asia-Pacific Workshop on #FoodAllergen Management – Shanghai – PRC – 3rdNov2016

The Food Risk Analysis and Regulatory Excellence Platform (FRAREP) of the Institute of Nutrition and Functional Foods (INAF) and the Department of Food Sciences at Université Laval are collaborating with :

  •   r-Biopharm: one the leaders of the Food Diagnostics industry;
  • the ARC Training Centre for Advanced Technologies in Food Manufacturing of the University of New-South Wales, Sydney, Australia;
  • the Analytical Branch of Australia’s National Measurement Institute; and
  • the National Centre for Food Safety Risk Assessment (CFSA) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)

to organize the first Asia Pacific Workshop on Food Allergen Management.

The workshop will be part of one the major food safety conferences held in Shanghai in the People’s Republic of China: the China International Food Safety and Quality Conference (CIFSQ) from November 2-3, 2016.

This first edition aims to gather food regulators, food industry partners and representatives of the clinical community and service providers from the region. Specific emphasis will be made to enhance the representation from China, with the intent to continue raising awareness and to contribute to dissemination efforts of best practices related to food allergen management.

This will be an opportunity to engage with Chinese Stakeholders to discuss current efforts to manage and prevent food allergy incidents as well as management of gluten. Discussions will also include possible future consideration of updated food regulatory requirements to manage allergen and gluten sources in food, in China and in the Asia Pacific Region.

Presentations will be made in English and Chinese with Simultaneous Interpretation offered.

The One day workshop will be held on November 3rd 2016 at the Shanghai Marriott Hotel City Centre. 

Registration to this one day workshop only can be made at the very competitive registration fee of 1,000 RMB (cost after October 1st).

Registration is still possible directly through this active link in English, or in mandarin.

The program of the workshop is attached below.

We look forward to meeting you in Shanghai

English Program: 

Chinese Program: 


Rejoignez-nous à #BENEFIQ2016 et le Symposium annuel de l’AQIA- 5-6 Octobre à Québec

Le Symposium annuel de l’association québécoise de l’innocuité alimentaire (AQIA) se tient dans le cadre de l’événement BENFIQ2016, rendez-vous international sur les ingrédients santé organisé par l’institut de nutrition et des aliments fonctionnels (INAF), de l’Université Laval.

Le symposium 2016 se tient du 5-6 octobre 2016 au centre des congrès de Québec.

Il vous est toujours possible de participer au symposium et de vous inscrire et soit via le site de l’AQIA, ou via le site de BENEFIQ2016.

Un programme diversifié a été préparé avec pour thème central : l’innovation en réponse aux défis courants et émergents de sécurité sanitaire des aliments.

Nous avons le plaisir de recevoir Dr. Martine Dubuc, Vice-Présidente de la direction générale des sciences de l’agence canadienne d’inspection des aliments (ACIA) et chef de la salubrité des aliments du Canada, qui nous fera l’honneur d’ouvrir officiellement le symposium le 6 octobre 2016 au matin.

L’équipe organisatrice espère vous y voir nombreux.

Join us at #BENEFIQ2016 & the Annual Event of the Quebec #Food Protection Association (AQIA)

The annual event of the Quebec Food Protection Association (AQIA) is to be held in Quebec City from 5-6 October 2016. This year’s symposium will be part of the biannual event BENEFIQ2016, the rendez-vous for health ingredients, organized by Institute of Nutrition and Functional Food (INAF) of Université Laval, Québec, Canada.

It is still possible to register and participate in the event either via the BENEFIQ2016 website or through the AQIA Website

The Symposium’s Program is attached and is covering the broad theme:  “Innovation in Response to Current and Emerging Food Safety Issues”

We have the privilege of welcoming Dr. Martine Dubuc, Vice President Science Branch of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Chief Food Safety Officer for Canada, who will be giving the keynote lecture and opening officially the 2016 AQIA Symposium.

We look forward to meeting you on the 5-6 October 2016 in Quebec City, QC. Canada.



IUFoST & AATA host a workshop on “Science Behind Regulations”

This workshop was an opportunity to meet and engage with members of the Science and Technology Community of Argentina: colleagues from Academia, the food regulatory community and industry groups.

Discussions and presentations addressed current and future trends of food production in Argentina, Latin America and Worldwide, challenges to develop sound and robust regulatory mechanisms, science and risk based regulations, the imperative to use the regulatory instrument after careful consideration of instrument of choice analysis, where regulation was found to be a possible effective mechanism to address the risk. Discussions covered the European food labeling requirements, trends in nutrition and allergen labelling as well as front of pack labeling.

We were fortunate to have the contribution of Dr. Pamela Byrne, CEO of the Food Safety Authority of the Republic of Ireland, Judith Meech, Secretary General of the International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST)  and the Senior Leadership of the Argentinean Association of Food Science and Technology (AATA), in particular Prof /Dr. Susanna Socolovsky.

A great discussion followed on good regulatory practices and on challenges and opportunities for the use labeling as a risk management and sanitary measure.