Concerns raised over food safety

Main Stories, National

The National, Wednesday 22nd August 2012

FOOD safety is not being prioritised by the national government, health department environment health manager Rose Kavanamur says.
At a food safety workshop organised by EDES yesterday, Kavanamur told participants the food safety division in the health department was underfunded
EDES, Greek for eat, is a four-year programme funded by the European Union that aims to strengthen food safety systems based on risk analysis in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Nations.
“To check food safety, especially imported food, we have to get tests done at laboratories and these labs charge fees that we can’t afford because there are no funds,” she said.
She said the division had only two staff responsible for food safety.
Kavanamur said the Food Safety Council formed in 2002 had been inactive for the past two years.
“The council is supposed to meet four times a year but they didn’t meet over the past two years.”
Kavanamur said the country had yet to establish a national food policy.
She said with support from the World Health Organisation they had a draft
national food policy.
“We will have a stakeholders meeting on the policy in October and it should be ready by March 2013.”
She said with the policy in place it would regulate the type of food imported into the country.
She said an example was the proposed ban on lamb flaps, which could not be implemented because there was no scientific evidence to prove to the World Trade Organisation that it was a health risk.
She said the policy would regulate issues like the amount of fat content of meat brought into the country.
“So if lamb flaps exceeded a certain fat limit as per the policy, then a ban can be issued as it is dangerous for the population,” she said.
EDES regional coordinator Antoine Kabwit Nguz said their aim was to identify gaps in food safety in the country and help Papua New Guinea in terms of capacity building and training.
Nguz said the EDES group was a European Union funded programme that aimed at giving information to participants on approaches to strengthening the modern food safety system within a country especially with foood safety.