12/09/2013 Singapore

Twenty-two member countries*  of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) from the Asia and Pacific Region, will gather from 12 to 14 September 2013 to collectively work on bringing about safer food for the region. The inaugural FAO-NEA Regional Workshop for Asian Countries on Hygiene and Safety in Food Retail is the first such forum in this region that offers participants a comprehensive view of hygiene and safety in food retail, with a focus on street food and organised retail food. Participants will come together to formulate regional guidelines for the improved management of hygiene and safety in food retail. With the unique and vibrant street food scene in the region, this forum has been organised in recognition that regional countries must work together, to preserve their unique food culture whilst striving for high standards of food hygiene.

2.   In consultation with the participants, regional guidelines for the improved management of hygiene and safety in food retail will be developed. The guidelines will be used by countries in the implementation of their food safety programmes. In addition, the possible establishment of an Asian Street Food Network will facilitate the surveillance and sharing of best practices in hygiene and safety in food retail, and support future regional collaborations and exchanges. Singapore’s experience in resettling its street vendors into hawker centres to achieve better public health standards, together with success stories from other countries, will be drawn upon in the development of these guidelines.

3 .  The 42 food safety experts and practitioners will also be visiting an NTUC Fairprice supermarket to experience an actual retail setting in Singapore as well Changi Village Hawker Centre where they will be introduced to Singapore’s unique street food culture over dinner.

4.  Mr Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, said: “Food safety has gained in importance across Asia, because it contributes to food security by reducing food-borne diseases and by promoting agricultural trade. FAO has long made food quality and safety a priority area of its work. The Organization works with member countries to enhance their capacity to design animal health and food-safety standards and to to strengthen legal and institutional frameworks that govern food safety and quality throughout the food chain.”

FAO is committed to capacity building for hygiene and safety in the retail food sector. Retail food safety is a priority area for FAO throughout the region, coming as it does at the final end in the food chain just before reaching consumers.”

5.   Mr Ronnie Tay, NEA Chief Executive Officer, said: “I am confident that we will produce the regional guidelines needed for the improved management of hygiene and safety in food retail in the region. I also hope that this inaugural event will see the establishment of a regional Asian Street Food Network, which will be a regional platform for surveillance, sharing of best practices and networking.”

* The participating countries are: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, China, DPR Korea, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor Leste and Viet Nam.

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