The establishment of ASEAN Risk Assessment Centre for Food Safety (ARAC) has been endorsed by the 12th ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting in September 2015, Ha Noi, Viet Nam. ARAC is hosted in Malaysia and aims to serve as a coordinating centre for risk assessment for food safety in the ASEAN region. In line with the direction of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) to establish ASEAN as a single market and production base which lead to the free movement of safe food and achieve the Science-based ASEAN Common Food Safety Measures
The 12th ASEAN Expert Group on Food Safety (AEGFS) Meeting, 20-22 October 2015, Yogyakarta, Indonesia endorsed the work plan for ARAC which includes five (5) major activities:
- Preparatory Workshop for Submission of Risk Assessment Request and Risk Profile to ARAC;
- Official Launching of ARAC;
- 1st Scientific Committee Meeting of ARAC;
- 1st Scientific Panel Meeting of ARAC; and
- Review and Evaluation of ARAC.
The importance of ARAC was also reflected in the Chairman statement during the 27th ASEAN Summit held in Malaysia on 21 November 2015, which recognised the establishment of ARAC as an important landmark to provide independent scientific input by pooling and utilizing scientific expertise across ASEAN in developing evidence-based common food safety measures in ASEAN that will contribute towards safe and quality food in the ASEAN Community as well as in facilitating food trade within ASEAN.
The launching of ARAC was successfully held on 22 March 2016 in Putrajaya, Malaysia. This was followed by the 1st Scientific Committee Meeting on 23-24 March 2016 in Putrajaya, Malaysia, which evaluated the (3) risk assessment request/question. The Scientific Committee Meeting agreed that risk assessment on Total Aflatoxins (AFT) and Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) through the Consumption of Peanut and Corn, including their Products submitted by the AEGFS (currently known as ASEAN Health Cluster 4 Ensuring Food Safety), be conducted by the Scientific Panel of ARAC. A Scientific Panel was established with its expert panelists selected by the 1st Scientific Committee Meeting to carry out this risk assessment work.
Following its establishment, the 1st Scientific Panel Meeting of ARAC on Risk Assessment on Total Aflatoxins (AFT) and Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) through the Consumption of Peanut and Corn in ARAC Office, Putrajaya was held on 26 to 27 October 2016. The meeting discussed on the suitable approaches for the risk assessment work in AFT and AFB1 in peanut and corn as well as established the work plan and timeline for the completion of the work. Based on the agreed work plan of the meeting, the Scientific Panel had been working online to complete the risk assessment work and drafting the risk assessment report.
Following the completion of its online work, the 2nd Scientific Panel Meeting of ARAC was held on 25-26 July 2018 in ARAC Office, Putrajaya, Malaysia organized by the ARAC, in collaboration with ASEAN Health Cluster 4 Ensuring Food Safety and the ASEAN Regional Integration Support by EU (ARISE Plus). The Meeting had discussed, improved and finalised the risk assessment report on “Total Aflatoxins (AFT) and Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) through The Consumption of Peanut and Corn.
The final report from this Scientific Panel will be submitted to the Scientific Committee for endorsement and will be subsequently sent back to ASEAN Health Cluster 4 Ensuring Food Safety as requesting risk manager for this risk assessment work for further deliberations and actions in enhancing the food safety control of peanut-based and corn-based products among ASEAN countries.
In this regard, the ARAC in collaboration with ASEAN Health Cluster 4 Ensuring Food Safety and the ASEAN Regional Integration Support by EU (ARISE Plus) will be organising the 2nd Scientific Committee Meeting of ASEAN Risk Assessment Centre for Food Safety (ARAC) on 8-9 March 2019 in Putrajaya, Malaysia.
The 2nd Scientific Committee Meeting of ARAC aims:
- to review and endorse the report on the Risk Assessment on Total Aflatoxins (AFT) and Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) through the Consumption of Peanut and Corn
- to discuss the way forward based on the outcome of the risk assessment report
- to discuss on improvement of ARAC procedure