Awareness raising workshop on food safety measures for the private sector

The Regional Economic Integration Support (REIS) Programme has been supporting the conduct of awareness raising workshops on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures for private sector stakeholders in the three SPS thematic areas namely plant health, animal health and food safety. Awareness raising workshops on phytosanitary standards (plant health) and sanitary standards (animal health) were held in May 2014 and October 2014 respectively. The third and final workshop for the year addressing awareness raising in food safety standards in the food processing sector was held from 10 – 12 February 2015 in Pretoria, South Africa.

The objectives of the workshop were:

  • To deepen the understanding of food safety sanitary issues amongst private sector stakeholders from the SADC Member States;
  • To enhance participation of private sector representatives in the development and implementation of harmonized national food standards;
  • To establish food safety networks;
  • To identify food safety related specific trade concerns faced by private sector.

The ultimate goal is to improve intra-regional and international trade in agricultural and agro-food products.

Fifty (50) delegates from the farming and food processing industry from 14 SADC Member States attended the workshop. The workshop was officially opened by a repre-sentative of the Director General from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) of South Africa.

Participants received technical presentations from renowned SPS experts on Critical Tools in Food Safety and Food Quality & Management including good hygiene practice (GHP), good manufacturing practice (GMP) and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP).

Presentations covering Global Trade in Food Products, The World Trade Organization (WTO) SPS Agreement and the SPS Annex to the SADC Protocol on Trade were also made.

Delegates from DAFF, South Africa shared on the food safety regulatory environment in that country and a presentation from the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) gave a good regional example of how the private sector can be effectively involved in protecting consumers through advocacy and contribution to legislative processes in food safety.

Delegates participated in simulated national regulatory environment case studies group work in order to appreciate some of the structural weakness encountered in many countries with respect to management of sanitary and phytosanitary issues. This gave them hands on practice on identification of SPS related challenges to intra-regional trade in agricultural and agro-food products and deliberated on possible solutions to these challenges. Delegates highlighted inadequate of information on SPS measures both nationally and regionally as a major obstacle to participation in the develop-ment of standards and implementation by farm-ers and food industry practitioners in the SADC region.

It was also observed that intra-regional trade in agricultural and agro-food products was hampered by lack of regionally harmonized stan-dards and procedures in SADC Member States. Some of the main recommendations from the workshop, which will be forwarded to the SADC SPS Coordinating Committee for consideration, were as follows:

  • Facilitation of regular meetings between private sector stakeholders (farmers) and public sector regulatory agencies in order to have direct dis-cussions on SPS requirements;
  • Establishment of, or strengthening of existing national SPS coordinating committees with full participation of the private sector;
  • Facilitation of improved dissemination of SPS related information to all stakeholders including new regulatory requirements; and
  • Facilitation of more capacity building activities for farmers and food processors to enable them to better comply with SPS requirements.
Published On: May 1, 2014|