Thứ Năm, 22 tháng 12, 2016

Cultivating science to instil food safety culture

Farmers and other actors in agribusiness need to embrace the science behind food practices and instil a new safety conscious culture, speakers told delegates at a recent forum in Ho Chi Minh City.

cultivating science to instil food safety culture hinh 0

Accepting the science behind microbiologically safe fruit and vegetables is a first step to creating a safer food environment in all of agriculture, said Le Van Banh, a department head at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Fresh produce are raw agricultural commodities that are far too often consumed within the country without being subjected to a scientifically grounded practice to effectively destroy pathogens or detect excessive harmful chemicals.
Food contamination can occur at every stage in the food supply chain, Mr Banh underlined, adding that fruit, vegetables and other produce are only as protected as the weakest link in the supply chain.
It is the responsibility of whoever produces the food to maintain its integrity, he told delegates, emphasizing that every business in the fresh produce industry has a duty to ensure consumers that the country’s farm produce is free of harmful pesticides and insecticides.
Industry participants need to follow practices that science dictates will guarantee they are maintaining the highest standard of food safety within their organization. Mr Banh urged business owners to protect themselves and their market by embracing science.
Instilling a food safety culture within a business and throughout the fresh produce supply chain is imperative because all the factors that contribute to foodborne illnesses originate from human error.
The agriculture segment can’t eliminate foodborne illnesses in their entirety but they can limit the number of individual instances that occur and contain epidemics from breaking out, added Mr Banh.
Every company should employ staff that understand food safety so that they can ask the right questions and guarantee that the importance of food safety is communicated to all employees in a variety of media.
Nguyen Thi Hong Thu, director of Chanh Thu Co. Ltd headquartered in Ben Tre Province in turn suggested delegates be the catalyst for implementing GlobalGAP or VietGAP standards throughout the supply chain.
Mr Thu noted that currently exports are high but profits are extremely low due to food safety concerns. 
Vietnamese fruit and vegetable stands little chance of making any long-term and sustainable entry into the lucrative US or EU markets as it now stands, because of consumer food safety concerns.
Local business owners must take the initiative to compel as well as educate their employees and introduce a no-nonsense policy towards food safety within their working environments.
Employees must get the message that unsafe food practices are unacceptable and will not be tolerated, emphasized Mr Thu.
Mr Thu noted his agreement with Mr Banh on the issue of communication to implement a culture of food safety. That communication must be rapid, reliable, relevant and repeated often to workers through all kinds of media outlets if the effort is to succeed, he noted.
Changing the mentality of labourers, employees and salaried staff throughout the entire supply chain is the best way to combat poor safety standards and will without question limit the occurrences of foodborne illnesses.
Businesses should make food safety a part of their branding, said other speakers, adding that they ought to have routine inspections and make the results of those examinations public.
They urged that the government GlobalGAP or VietGAP safety standards are the minimum requirements and businesses must be creative and innovative, aiming to exceed these requirements, serving as a win/win for their business, the agriculture segment and ultimately the consumers.
Commitment from every player in every supply chain is needed to make sure food is kept as safe as possible and this story needs to be shared with consumers around the globe to make a compelling incentive for them to purchase produce from Vietnam.
The bottom line is that agriculture needs to live and breathe science – day in and day out – if it is to be profitable and sustainable, they concluded.

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