Fiji Food Safety Association launched
(Suva) – The European Union Ambassador for the Pacific, His Excellency Andrew Jacobs, today launched the Fiji Food Safety Association (FFSA), a non-profit organization that supports national Fijian initiatives to improve the quality and safety of food products, protect brands and public health. Members of the Association include professionals from food processing companies, retailers, caterers, environmental health officers, food safety and quality consultants, research and academic institutions, and students.
The launch, which took place at the Suva Business Centre, was attended by a cross-section of stakeholders from the agriculture and food sector, including the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture of Fiji, as well as representatives from food processing companies, universities and the Consumer Council of Fiji.
The formation of the FFSA responds to a need for a nation-wide food-safety body to represent food sector stakeholders, expressed during a series of workshop and training activities with enterprises, government agencies, buyers and food-safety specialists. These activities were organized by the International Trade Centre (ITC) under the European Union-funded Improvement of Key Services to Agriculture (IKSA) project.
A number of participants volunteered to undertake deeper training and qualification to become Food Safety Counsellors, who are now internationally qualified to audit and provide advice for enterprises on food safety, ISO standards and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP). HACCP is a preventive hazard management system to assure the safe production of food products.
Under the ITC project more than 20 Ministry of Health inspectors have also been trained and internationally qualified. Food Safety Counsellors, Inspectors and other food safety professionals in Fiji now form the bedrock of the FFSA’s membership.
''The European Union is a strong supporter of sustainable agriculture. Between 2006 and 2014, the EU has channeled approximately EUR 60 million through a specific range of agriculture, livestock, reforestation and sugar initiatives in Fiji,'' Ambassador Jacobs said during the launch.
''2015 happens to be the European Year for Development (EYD) for the EU. We thank ITC and the organizers for fittingly launching the Fiji Food Safety Association this month, as October is the month for 'Food security’ and food safety is a big part of food security,'' he added.
The FFSA provides a platform for its members, as well as other people from the agri-business and health sectors to share ideas and best practice, and to discuss issues related to food safety in Fiji, such as the development of standards and participation in the review of food-safety regulations. Because of the diverse experience of FFSA members in quality management systems, health and safety, research and education, the association will be able to offer information, advice and local expertise to farmers, enterprises and stakeholders in the agri-business sector to address gaps in performance in food value chains.
President of the FFSA, Ms Deepal Lal, emphasized that the Association aims at enabling Fijian enterprises to comply with the strict requirements of national and international standards for their products, particularly food. ‘’Our focus is to integrate local know-how on achieving compliance with international standards and best practices to deliver safe and quality products and services that meet Fijian and international requirements,'' she said.
Speaking at a symposium on food safety and food security preceding the FFSA launch, ITC Programme Coordinator in Fiji, Mr Kofi Essuman, said: ‘’The creation of the Fiji Food Safety Association is a giant step in the right direction. Food safety support services are essential for food security given the complexity of food supply chains and, along with regular monitoring and verification, are an important factor for minimizing food safety and health risks”.
Under the IKSA project, six food-processing enterprises in Fiji have already been assisted to improve operational procedures, and are now HACCP certified.
The FFSA encourages enterprises to make use of the Association’s services to achieve improved product quality and food safety. Members include the internationally qualified Food Safety Counsellors trained and certified under the ITC project. They have the relevant competencies to support Fijian companies to meet national and international requirements such as HACCP and ISO. FFSA will assist enterprises to comply with applicable standards, regulations, buyers’ and customer quality and food safety requirements through organizing awareness workshops, training, and circulation of information, advisory services and internal enterprise audits.
Notes for Editors
About the International Trade Centre: ITC is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the Millennium Development Goals.