FSAI hosts International Heads of Food Agencies Forum
17 regulatory agencies gathered to discuss how best to prepare for food safety crises and manage food safety incidents
10 May 2023
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) welcomed global food regulators to Dublin for the fourth annual meeting of the International Heads of Food Agencies Forum – the first face-to-face meeting since the Covid-19 pandemic.
Officially opened by Minister of State for Public Health, Wellbeing and National Drugs Strategy, Hildegarde Naughton, 17 regulatory agencies from countries including Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, China, Morocco, Singapore, Germany and the United Kingdom have gathered to discuss how best to prepare for food safety crises and manage food safety incidents in what is becoming an increasingly complex global food system.
The Forum was also joined by senior officials from the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
In recent years, the world has experienced new and emerging risks, including those resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and speaking today in Dublin, the International Heads of Food Agencies Forum stressed the importance of ongoing worldwide engagement to understand and address these challenges and strengthen global food safety systems.
Sessions at the forum included sharing information on the systems in place in a number of countries for identifying risks and threats, and a reflection on lessons learned from some of the world’s major food safety/ food fraud incidents and an exploration of best practices and common pitfalls to avoid.
Commenting, Hildegarde Naughton, Minister of State for Public Health, Wellbeing and National Drugs Strategy, said that she hoped the event would provide further opportunities to ensure safe food by protecting the health and wellbeing of all consumers.
“As our food supply chains grow increasingly complex, international relations and coordination play such a crucial role in maintaining food safety,” said Minister Naughton. “By working together, our countries and organisations can ensure the safety, integrity and availability of global food supplies. It is vital that the World Food Safety Day message, “Food safety is everyone’s business”, filters down to every stakeholder – growers, processors, transporters, stores, distributors, sellers and servers – so that they continue to play their part.”
Speaking at the event, Dr Pamela Byrne, chief executive, FSAI, emphasised the important role that international collaboration can play in preparing for and responding to, when the need arises, global food safety incidents.
“We are stronger together in the face of food safety crises. The work of the International Heads of Food Agencies Forum has been crucial in building our global network, learning from other countries, and sharing our expertise and experience in ensuring swift and effective responses to any potential emerging risks and threats to the global food chain. By implementing systems that identify signals of potential issues and sharing information, we can take a proactive approach to assessing and managing risk in the food system, which ultimately protects the health and well-being of consumers worldwide. Collaboration and knowledge sharing among international food safety agencies is key to learning from each other and continuously improving our responses to future crises, ultimately strengthening global food safety systems.”
The International Heads of Food Agencies Forum emphasises the need for continued collaboration and knowledge sharing among international food safety agencies to learn from each other and improve our collective response to future food safety crises. By working together, the international community can strengthen global food safety systems and ultimately better protect the health and well-being of consumers worldwide.
Founded in 2020 by the FSAI, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority and Food Standards Australia New Zealand, the Forum is focused on ensuring food regulators worldwide are equipped to adapt to the fast pace of change in consumer behaviour, in food production practices, in technologies and in environmental conditions impacting food safety and quality, and also ensuring that their decisions and current food regulatory measures continue to support consumer protection.