There is an urgent need to put in place sound food safety management (FSM) systems through building reliable, safe food supply chains, says Dr Isimeli Tagicakiverata.

The director National Training and Productivity Centre at the Fiji National University made the statement at the training on food safety management systems — basic course for small, medium enterprises in the food industry, at the Radisson Blu Resort Fiji.

Dr Tagicakiverata said food safety had become important for the food industry — both manufacturing and service sector of any country.

"The situation of food safety in many developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region, however, is far from satisfactory.

"This is attributed to a lack of awareness of its socioeconomic significance and lack of understanding of basic concepts, tools, and techniques of food safety such as good hygiene practices (GHP), good manufacturing practices (GMP), and hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) and ISO 22000 Food Safety Management Systems," he said.

According to Dr Tagicakiverata, some of the other challenges that contributed to the situation included the limited pool of trainers and experts providing training and consultancy in this field and high cost of implementing the requirements relating to food safety, especially for SMEs.

"Our effort to continuously improve systems and processes and complying with international standards has been of critical importance to open markets all over the world for our goods and services."

Dr Tagicakiverata said there was also a great need to change the mind-set of both workers and managers, including the wider community.

He said the core value of such a quality mind-set was that it always made them to want to better ourselves in terms of knowledge, skills, discipline, efforts and teamwork.

"Our commitment and work in the SME sector is something that has been continuously being honed over for the past 10 years. And of course, SMEs is what we would like to see continuing to blossom in our economy for it provides new sources of employment," he said.

He said food safety was a worldwide issue as the globalisation of trade can spread foodborne pathogens.

"Both developed and developing countries share concerns over food safety as international food trade and cross-border movements of people and live animals increase."

He said the training would provide participants with good knowledge of fundamental FSM concepts, principles, tools, techniques, and critical success factors for SMEs in the food industry to all the participants.

Source: The Fiji Times Online