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Posted On: 7 June 2009 08:31 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:09 pm

looks at common food safety law

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GCC countries are taking a closer look at the possibility of having a common mechanism in place whereby food items imported into the region are tested and cleared for safety. The food items can subsequently be allowed to be distributed for use in member-countries. But reliable sources say, before this is done, a common regional food safety law is required to be implemented. Currently, GCC countries follow independent policies with regard to food import and testing and while one country can import a particular item, another can refuse its entry since rules can differ. But member-states do have a joint panel called the Food Safety Committee (FSC) which meets regularly and discusses the issue. It exchanges experiences of member-countries with regard to food imports and testing and mulls ways of making cooperation in the field more effective and active. The FSC met here recently and before that in Abu Dhabi. The two-day meet held in Doha last weekend was hosted by the Supreme Council for Health. Among other issues, challenges in framing a common regional food safety law and enforcing effectively it were discussed. The proposed law would make food import and safety rules uniform all over the region so the existing discrepancies are removed. The idea is to ensure that no food which has been declared unfit for use or of substandard quality can enter any of the GCC member states. A common decision can also be taken immediately if a particular food item already been imported is banned for some reasons like the breakout of epidemic in their countries or origin. One of the major challenges facing the region is that no member-country has local personnel who are experts and can make preliminary assessment of the dangers some food types can pose. The panel which met here last weekend also discussed this issue in detail as also ways to have local teams of food inspectors and experts. However, until a common law is introduced and a regional food safety agency takes shape, the panel agreed to improve communication between the authorities in member-states responsible for food safety to ensure active cooperation.