The National, Thursday 23rd August, 2012
HAVING scientifically sound food quality and safety protocols will benefit Papua New Guinea greatly, Department of Agriculture and Livestock acting secretary Dr Vele Pat Illa’ava says.
At a two-day food safety workshop organised by EDES in Port Moresby, Illa’ava said that would help the economy through huge savings on heath bills.
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 nations.
Illa’ava said the recent outbreaks of cholera, typhoid and increase in poor diet-related illnesses in the country highlight the importance of establishing appropriate protocols and effective systems to regulate and monitor food quality and food safety.
He said the challenges for the country had escalated over the past five years with the increasing imports of food, some of which had serious health issues.
He said the population explosion in fast-growing urban squatter settlements had highlighted the need for PNG to develop or update food quality and safety legislations.
“Many of these squatters involved in the food business have very little regard for food quality and safety,” he said.
Illa’ava said the aim of the workshop was to identify the gaps in food safety processes in the country.
He said in the next few weeks he would discuss the implementation, budget required and the outcomes raised in the workshop with other department heads.
He directed the participants from the National Agricultural Quarantine Inspection Authority, National Research Institute and National Fisheries Authority to compile an information booklet that he would present to the minister responsible to present to cabinet.
EDES group Pacific regional coordinator Philppe Prigent said it would not draft food safety laws for the country or provide equipment to help but it would provide training.
Prigent said some possible interventions by EDES would include training of inspectors in the food chain, training in self-assessment systems, sampling techniques and specific laboratory upgrading.