Food :: Major APEC Food Safety Cooperation Agreement signed

APEC economies have agreed to a new plan for improving food safety at the APEC Food Safety Cooperation Forum in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales. This is the first time food safety regulators have been involved in APEC.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Brett Mason, said that APEC’s Food Safety Cooperation Forum, jointly chaired by Australia and China, is playing a vital role in improving food safety standards throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

?This agreement establishes a two-year work program that will provide significant health benefits to the people of the Asia-Pacific, improving the way APEC allocates funds for food safety and how the APEC economies work together. Business will benefit also, as the reduction of overlaps and inconsistencies will not only make systems safer, but easier to comply with,? Senator Mason said.

?Consumers today are more aware and have greater expectations regarding the safety of the food supply. Through the development of transparent information-sharing and communication networks, consumers and producers will be able to receive accurate and timely information on food safety. And through the raising of skills and human resource capacities, better national food safety regulatory systems can be developed.

?Food is important to Australia. The food and beverage industry is the largest manufacturing industry sector in Australia, with 80 per cent of our production being exported. And we are importing more and a wider variety of our food.

?Improving food safety and standards levels throughout the region not only contributes to the region?s development and provides economic benefits, it improves the health and well-being of the entire population. Through its co-chairing of the APEC Food Safety Cooperation Forum, Australia is at the forefront of this important work.

?This is an important achievement and will have positive long-term benefits in forging stronger relationships with senior food safety regulators in APEC economies,? Senator Mason said.

The forum?s aim is to encourage regional APEC economies to work together to harmonise food safety regulations with international standards to improve health and food safety outcomes and facilitate trade. The major output from the forum will be an agreed two-year work program recommending to APEC projects that strengthen food safety capacity building in the APEC region.

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