Food Industry Asia (FIA) announced on Sept. 11, 2015 a commitment to scale up food safety capacity building in China and the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region by signing an agreement with the World Bank for the Global Food Safety Partnership (GFSP).
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Launched and convened by the World Bank in 2012, the GFSP seeks to improve capacity-building and training programs for food safety practitioners in both the public and private sectors. The GFSP Secretariat, based in Washington DC, is hosted by the World Bank.
A pan-Asia industry group headquartered in Singapore, FIA was formed in 2010 to enable major food manufacturers to speak with one voice in Asia, principally in response to the region’s rapid economic growth and complex challenges in areas such as regulatory standards, food safety, and effective public health approaches.
Since the beginning of the GFSP, FIA has worked to ensure that this initiative is well-informed and responsive to the needs of food and beverage companies and their consumers in Asia, says Matt Kovac, FIA’s policy director. “The signing of this agreement along with FIA’s financial contribution to the partnership signals that we are committed to strengthening food safety systems by accelerating the transfer of knowledge and best practice to small- and medium-sized companies throughout the supply chain, especially in developing countries,” he explains.
FIA’s commitment to the GFSP includes an initial contribution of U.S. $150,000 in Asia.
“The agreement signed with FIA represents a strong commitment on behalf of the private sector in a region that is at the forefront of our global food economy and will accelerate progress in strengthening food safety policies, standards, and training programs,” says Nathan Belete, manager of World Bank Agriculture Global Practice, based in Hanoi, Vietnam.
“Signing this new agreement signals an important milestone in FIA’s mission to address one of Asia’s most complex challenges, namely to reduce the hazards in global food supply chains and to enhance the levels of trust between food companies and their consumers,” says Bev Postma, FIA’s executive director. “We can achieve this most effectively by investing in multi-stakeholder initiatives like the Global Food Safety Partnership.”
Along with the FIA and World Bank, other key partners in Asia include the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, the Global Food Safety Initiative, and the China Food and Drug Administration, who are already heavily vested in food safety training, Postma notes.
“Our involvement with the GFSP affirms FIA’s role as a trusted partner to businesses and governments in Asia as we seek to scale up our collaborative capacity-building efforts in risk management, risk assessment, and risk communications,” Postma relates. “We believe this unique global partnership drives a collaborative food safety agenda, especially in China, where there is a real opportunity to build a strong food safety culture between the government and the food industry.”
Food safety is one of FIA’s core pillars and our goal in signing on with the GFSP is to stimulate effective multi-stakeholder collaboration in Asia to deliver a positive impact for society, Kovac adds. “By working together, we can strengthen supply chains, reduce foodborne illness, and drive economic growth and prosperity by fostering a safe food culture,” he emphasizes. “Since its founding, FIA has been working with industry partners across the entire food supply chain in Asia, most notably to strengthen and harmonize food safety standards and to enhance both regulatory and self-regulatory systems in order to meet internationally recognized benchmarks.”