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FAO Launches Project to Enhance Food Safety & Phytosanitary Oversight in Comoros

Sanitary and phytosanitary regulations may have an impact on trade by their very nature. All governments agree that specific trade limitations may be required to safeguard plant health and guarantee food safety.

Shivam Dwivedi
FAO helps governments & institutions worldwide implement Codex Alimentarius Commission food safety standards to protect consumer health
FAO helps governments & institutions worldwide implement Codex Alimentarius Commission food safety standards to protect consumer health

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has launched national-level initiatives in the island nation of Comoros as part of a 5-million-euro international project to improve food safety and phytosanitary oversight in 12 African nations in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) region.

A team of food safety experts from FAO's Food Systems and Food Safety Division is leading the two-year project titled "Strengthening of Capacities and Governance in Food and Phytosanitary Control." The team will provide technical assistance and collaborate with governments to build capacity, strengthen governance, and improve strategic planning related to food safety and plant health in participating countries. A genuine collaborative spirit was present, as well as a strong desire to share information and opinions as part of a group effort.

"This week, the team of assessors walked the national focal points through the first steps of their tasks, which involve collecting information and data, a key part of the process that will continue over the next several weeks," said Catherine Bessy, FAO Senior Food Safety Officer, who facilitated the four-day training of focal points last week in Moroni, Comoros' capital city.

FAO assists governments and institutions worldwide implement Codex Alimentarius Commission food safety standards to protect consumer health and promote fair food trade practices. Food safety and plant health are dependent on effective assessment systems.

As part of the project's food safety component, the FAO team will collaborate closely with government ministries, academic institutions, and other stakeholders to implement the FAO/WHO National Food Control System Assessment Tool, which comprehensively evaluates a country's national food control system's capacities.

The main goal of the tool is to provide a consistent, objective, and mutually agreeable framework for evaluating the effectiveness of a national food control system. It is intended to be used as a basis for self-evaluation by nations to identify priority areas for improvement and to organize a series of coordinated operations to achieve desired results. Nations can track their progress by assessing regularly.

The tool's success depends on cooperation from various levels of government and knowledgeable authorities throughout the food chain. According to FAO, the administration demonstrated a high level of engagement and dedication by promising to deliver the necessary statistics at the previous session.

The food safety team explained to stakeholders and focal points the technical procedures that will be used throughout the programme. The next stop on the itinerary will be Seychelles, where the initial workshop and training programme for focal points will begin on November 28.

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