Saturday, 3 April 2010

RP eyed to become SEA food safety hub

Manila Bulletin

The Philippines is eyed to become a food safety hub in South East Asia with the $2-$5 million Traceability Center for Agro-Industrial Exports (TRACE) being put up here by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

The Philippine Trace, or P Trace, will be the South East Asian counterpart of the Egyptian Trace, or E Trace, earlier put up by UNIDO which has already become the food safety center in the African-Mediterranean area.

Projected to be completed within three years perhaps beginning June this year, it will be completed over a shorter period of time than the five-six year period that it took to establish E Trace.

“There’s a growing interest in food traceability, and this has an impact on all exporters of food products from the Philippines to Europe. If you don’t have a traceability system, you can’t export to Europe,” said Gerardo Patacconi, Quantity Standards and Conformity head of UNIDO’s Trade Capacity Building Branch, in an interview at a P Trace forum.

Patacconi cited Carrefour and TESCO, a British merchandising retail chain which is third largest global retailer just next to Wal-Mart and Carrefour, no longer accept suppliers that do not have food traceability systems.

The food safety center will enable Filipino exporters of food products to Europe and other developed countries like the United States and Japan to sustain and raise export to Europe.

Food traceability involves the use of food safety certification like the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point, Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), Good Agricultural Practice (GAP), Halal certification, and technologies.

This is in order to control transport of contaminated food and also trace the origin of food that proves unsafe to human health and effectively stop the sourcing of food from this origin.

The P Trace which is part of UNIDO’s Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) will train food safety experts in the country in E Trace in Egypt.

“The idea is to establish food safety competency in each crop. Each crop will have its own system to manage the supply chain,” said Patacconi.

The P Trace can make the Philippines a center for training of other potential food safety experts in the region.

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