Plans are underway to create a single agency that will be responsible for Qatar’s national food risk assessment. The body will implement an integrated ‘farm to table’ food safety management in the country.
Currently, food safety in Qatar is managed by a multi-agency system which consists of key governmental bodies including the Supreme Council of Health (SCH), Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Urban Planning, and the Ministry of Environment. The Qatar National Food Security Programme (QNFSP) is a taskforce working in collaboration with all the government partners.
According to Wassan al Baker, head of food safety & environmental health division at the SCH, food risk assessment in the country would be more effective under a single agency.
“For now, we have created the SCH risk assessment team under our division in collaboration with the SCH’s non-communicable disease control division. The team will look after all the risks related to food safety systems, especially in terms of pathogens and contamination. We will start with the basics and in the future we will expand to creating a national risk assessment team with all the stakeholders involved under a single body,” she added.
Baker was speaking at the ‘Food Risks Evaluation Symposium’ which was organised by the SCH on Wednesday.
Leading the seminar and speaking further about the need for a single agency to regulate food safety, Dr Steve Hathaway, director of science & risk assessment at New Zealand Ministry of Primary Industries, said, “The different entities should be incorporated into a single agency to prevent duplication and create better efficacy of the tasks. There should be a high level of coordination and sharing of information and resources between the different entities in the food control system.” Hathaway who has been pivotal in the development of international food safety standards is working with the SCH in studying Qatar’s food safety condition.
With Qatar currently importing 90 percent of its food supply, he stressed the importance of having a national risk assessment team to determine the health status of all the food in the market.
“There is clearly a lack of information on national nutrition and chemical hazards in the overall food supply chain in Qatar and this should be addressed by carrying out baseline work to determine specific risks associated with nutrient imbalances or chemical hazards,” he added.
According to Dr Godwin Balasingam, senior regulatory affairs advisor at the QNFSP, a situation analysis is already being planned to be conducted soon to determine the baseline data for Qatar’s food safety condition. He also said that new policies and legislations on Qatar’s food security need to be developed.
“We’re trying to design a new framework with institutional capacity under a single agency for food safety so that Qatar’s food security system is world class. We have to now look at development of standards to make sure that all the food imported is of the highest quality and safety standards.
“But under the QNFSP, the intention is to develop agriculture in Qatar. From 90 percent imports we may drop to maybe 40 percent. In which case, in the next 10 years there will be a lot more farms developed in Qatar and then we have to look at food safety as an issue for the farmers in Qatar as well. That initiative has already begun and we are already doing the design of the new food safety for both imports and locally produced food,” Balasingam said.
source: Qatar Tribune
You must be logged in to post a comment.