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Dealing with an Expanding Global Food Supply

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We have a competitive world economy and cannot exist in isolation. Migration, overseas education, and travel have resulted in tremendous demands for foods from other parts of the world. With advances in communication systems, products can be moved rapidly throughout the world at competitive prices. There is a two-way concern regarding safety and quality in importing and exporting countries: the microbiological risks from products and/or ingredients from countries which have varying microbiological standards and the dumping of substandard products in countries with insufficient monitoring systems.

HACCP (hazard analysis critical control points) programs based on hazards and risks specific to a particular product are being increasingly recommended as a quality assurance tool to meet the current and future safety demands of the world's food supply. The scope of these developments implies an urgent need for a thorough understanding of the dynamics of food production, including the available infrastructure, trained human resources, and cultural factors, as well as food needs and wants. Quality assurance activities should not only depend on government's regulatory machinery, but also on self-regulation by industry groups, exporters, and importers. Enough has been said on these principles. It is left to countries and industries to exercise adherence to ensure safety and quality. Assistance from the developed world and international organizations to train resources in developing countries on the standard safety procedures is urgently needed. Government-industry partnership and mutual recognition (of certification bodies) based on HACCP plans and designed after ISO (International Standards Association) guidelines are some of the means by which importing countries can monitor and address the expanding global food supply. A network of these certification bodies worldwide should be considered. The basic provisions of the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) on Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary Measures signed on 15 April 1994, when fully implemented, should be able to address these concerns.


Document Type: Miscellaneous

Affiliations: Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute, P.O. Box 12301 G.P.O., 50774 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Publication date: 1996-10-01

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