June 2, 2021. Kia Ora! The BAFS, along with the designated representatives of the DA Food Safety Regulatory Agencies (FSRAs) participated in the APEC Second Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM2) specifically the Food Safety Cooperation Forum (FSCF) suite of events hosted virtually by New Zealand.
The set of events was conducted from 22 May 2021 to 28 May 2021, consisting of four (4) virtual activities: Workshop on Application of Shared Responsibility of the APEC Food Safety Modernization Framework, Workshop on Risk Communication, Partnership Training Institute Network Steering Group (PTIN SG) Meeting, and the 8th Food Safety Cooperation Forum (FSCF) Conference.
The Philippine delegation was headed by DA Assistant Secretary for Regulations Liza Battad, with technical personnel from BAFS and 14 Food Safety Regulatory Agency (FSRA) representatives as members of the delegation. FSRAs that participated were the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI), Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), National Meat Inspection Service (NMIS) and Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA).
The events focused on the progress made towards meeting its goals in strengthening food safety systems, and encouraging the use of international standards and best practices, improving public health and safety, and facilitating food trade for APEC member economies. These goals are consistent with the commitments under the World Trade Organization’s Agreements on the application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and Technical Barriers to Trade to protect public health and facilitate the trade of safe food among economies.
Specifically, the Workshop on Application of Share Responsibility of the APEC Food Safety Modernization Framework presented the initial draft on Best Practices of Shared Responsibility among APEC Economies.
The workshop on risk communication presented and discussed six (6) applicable guidelines aiming to supplement the approved APEC Food Safety Risk Communication (FSRC) framework. The documents provide guidance on risk communication for everyday use, during an emergency, implementation of FSRC, monitoring and review, industry guide, and social media engagement.
The PTIN SG Meeting, on the other hand, is a venue for all interested parties of food safety matters including academe, industry, government offices, and consumer groups. The meeting discussed future capacity building needs that will help strengthen the current food safety systems in the region.
The Philippines made an intervention through Asec. Battad as the head of delegation. She emphasized the economy’s needs for knowledge management, particularly on big data collection, information management systems and laboratory information management systems.
The active participation and contribution made in these events are commendable considering some complexity in accessing technology and the challenges of having participants from different time zones in the APEC region.
In conclusion, the 8th FSCF Conference culminated the week-long suite of events and wrapped up the session through the adoption of the 8th FSCF statement. Seventeen (17) APEC member economies are looking forward to having the next producing meeting of the FSCF in 2023. ###