30 November 2020
The National Contact Points of the ASEAN Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (ARASFF-NCP), are overseeing the development of a web-based application that will enable Competent Authorities in Food Safety and Public Health of all ASEAN Member States to rapidly notify and exchange information on direct or indirect risks to human health deriving from food or feed being traded in ASEAN. This is to assist that Member States may take appropriate counter-measures. ARASFF-NCP has been leading the development of ASEAN Guidelines on Traceability for Food and Feed Guideline to provide a tool that is required for the effective functioning of ARASFF. This Guideline contains the essential requirements for traceability for food and feed and provides the basis for harmonising regulatory requirements that in turn will serve to facilitate intra-ASEAN trade in food products. Recognising that traceability is a key tool with applications in the whole food chain, ARASFF-NCP has undertaken the development on the Guideline by engaging with representatives of other ASEAN Bodies in the agriculture, health and trade sectors through ongoing the consultations.
Traceability systems enable food and feed businesses operators to demonstrate to their buyers as well as to the food and feed safety authorities that all materials and at relevant stages of production, processing and distribution of food and feed products have been applied are in compliance as stated in the ASEAN Food Safety Policy, Principle 8 Reliable Traceability System. If a product with a hazard and causing health risk to the consumers is found on the market, such systems are essential in enabling a product recall to avoid any harm to consumers.
The Workshop, held on 30th November, organised and supported by ARISE Plus experts, was a culmination of a series of consultations and discussions held over the past one and a half years on the principles and essential elements for traceability. These consultations had resulted in an advanced draft text of the Guidelines. A total of 48 representatives from ARASFF-NCP and other ASEAN Bodies from the agriculture, health and trade sectors participated in the November 30th workshop. Discussions during the workshop successfully addressed the remaining differences of opinion and resulted in a consensus draft that will be presented to the ARASSFF-NCP and other relevant ASEAN bodies in the 3 sectors for endorsement.
The adoption of the ASEAN Guidelines on Traceability will provide ASEAN Member States a means to implement this key principle of the ASEAN Food Safety Policy in a harmonised manner. The ASEAN Food Safety Regulatory Framework Agreement (AFSRF), that is currently nearing final agreement by Member States incorporates the principle that food safety has to be assured across the total food chain and the guidelines will provide an essential tool for the implementation of this principle and the realisation of the AFSRF.