APEC - food safety is our goal Ministers at this year's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in Sydney, which aims at reducing trade barriers between member states, vowed last week to wage war on companies that embarrass the region with lax safety regulations. In a summary report of the debate, ministers argued that a healthy food industry was vital in building a stable economy. "We agreed on the need to develop a more robust approach to strengthening food and consumer product safety standards and practices in the region, using scientific risk-based approaches and without creating unnecessary impediments to trade," the report said. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, ministers also agreed to establish a taskforce, the APEC Food Safety Cooperation Forum, aimed at ensuring food safety across the region. The new forum, chaired by Australia and China, will move towards guaranteeing "the health and safety of our populations". APEC has 14 member countries from either Asia or Australasia, as well as the US, Canada, Russia, Chile and Mexico. China-Indonesia partnership announced Battling against it's reputation as having the poorest safety regulations in the world, China also agreed during the forum to set up a committee in partnership with Indonesia, one of it's strongest trading partners. According to Indonesian press agency Antara news, the group will exchange information on product safety and decide on what steps should be taken if a regulatory breach occurs. Increased security between the two countries will improve business between the two nations, the press agency said. Australia "future foods" conference imminent Moving out of the region and towards a global perspective, next week Australia will play host to a conference on food safety in the region. Organised by the Food Standards Australia and New Zealand Agency, the theme of the conference is how "future foods" will affect manufacturers and regulators, and the difficulties and challenges posed by developments in food products. "This conference is timely as food safety is a major international issue both for emerging and major economies as we face changes in technology and increased consumer demand for foods that are convenient, safe and healthy," said George Davey, director-general of the New South Wales food authority in a FSA report. "Participants will hear about the experiences of their counterparts from Australia and across the world," he added. "It's a great opportunity for industry, government, consumers and researchers to share and debate ideas." Emerging trends tackled during the conference will include new regulations, and how they will affect industry and consumers, as well as the impact that rising commodity prices will have on manufacturers.
In light of global publicity over food scares originating in Asia-Pacific, the region is now fighting back, both internally and globally, by making food safety its top priority.