30 JANUARY 2002

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Maltese MP for Global Forum on Food Safety

Maltese MP Francis Agius will be representing the Council of Europe in the forthcoming Global Forum on Food Safety Regulators, to be held in Marrakech, Morocco at the end of the month.

All people throughout the world have a basic right to food, which is nutritious, of good quality and safe. Modern science and technology have expanded our knowledge and capabilities in food production, processing and distribution. However, our understanding of the hazards associated with foods have not necessarily kept pace.

Countries have developed systems to control the safety and quality of their national food supply. These systems vary widely in both their sophistication and in their ability to react to food safety problems. An adequate food control system must be able to respond quickly and effectively to food safety emergencies as they arise as well as having routine procedures to assure food quality and safety. Some of these emergencies may be trans-boundary in nature, originating in neighbouring countries or through imports from more distant trading partners.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) will jointly convene a Global Forum of Food Safety Regulators to provide opportunity for food safety regulators from every region of the world to meet together to consider, discuss and share experiences on food safety issues that are of concern to everyone.

The purpose of the Global Forum is:

• to promote the exchange of information on approaches and experience acquired by national food safety regulators in dealing with current food safety issues of potential importance to public health and international food trade;

• to advance the process of science-based public consultations; and

• to facilitate capacity building, particularly in developing countries.

The main theme of the Global Forum will be "Improving Efficiency and Transparency in Food Safety Systems - Sharing Experiences". Under this main theme, the Forum will address the following four broad food safety topics of Regulatory Issues, Risk Management, Capacity Building, Communication and Participation

Dr Francis Agius is the Chairman of the Committee on Food, Agriculture and Fisheries of the Council of Europe and the Rapporteur on the issue of food safety and genetically modified food products.



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