The First Global International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) meeting inaugurated in the presence of representatives from around the world
Abu Dhabi, December 14, 2010: His Excellency Dr. Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad, UAE Minister of Environment and Water, inaugurated yesterday the first global meeting of the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) in the presence of a galaxy of senior officials from World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and local and federal government bodies.
The meeting - hosted by Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs - is taking place over three days from December 14-16 at the Beach Rotana in Abu Dhabi. It will discuss a wide range of issues, including enhancing collaboration between member states with regards to efforts pertaining to maintaining food safety at a global level.
Inaugurating the meeting, His Excellency Dr. Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad said: ï¿½Food safety and food security are two issues that figure on top of our priorities. The wise leadership of the emirate and the country have always stressed on the vital link between these two issues and the general well being of our people. Being the venue for INFOSAN's first global meeting puts the stamp of international recognition on our humble yet determined efforts in the areas that concern us all equally."
"The United Arab Emirates will always remain in the forefront of all regional and global initiatives for ensuring the greater common good. The wise leadership of this country has never shied away from its role in international cooperation and exchange of knowledge and information in all walks of life. Our role in international forums has always been one of positive and constructive engagement. In a globalized world, no country exists in isolation and no country can aspire to excellence to the exclusion of her sisters. I welcome this very important collaboration with the World Health Organization, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations and Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority." H.E added.
"I am confident we will emerge from this meeting with a clearer vision and a united plan of action for a safer and more secure food future for the world. It is part of our commitment not only to our people, but also to future generations," the Minister of Environment and Water concluded.
DR Saad Al Otaibi, Assistant Director General, FAO Regional Office for for Near East, said: ï¿½We can never emphasize enough the importance of the multidisciplinary approach to food safety, as food safety indeed involves many different kinds of stakeholders at both national and international levels. Among those main stakeholders, the agriculture sector and the health sector are two key sectors to lead food safety issues that are relevant to human, animal and plant life and health and protection of the environment. Naturally, FAO and WHO recognize this important role and responsibility at the international level and work closely together on almost all food safety related international activities. The Codex Alimentarius Commission is one prominent example, and INFOSAN is obviously another strategic one.ï¿½
DR Hussein A. Gezairy, Regional Director, WHO Eastern Metiterranean Region said: ï¿½The objectives of the First Global Meeting of the International Food Safety Authorities Network are several ï¿½ but they all point in the same direction: - to improve and enhance the structure and functioning of the INFOSAN network in order to fulfill the requirements of Food Safety Authorities across the world for exchange of valid and timely information concerning food safety events. At the last World Health Assembly in May 2010, the Member States gave WHO a clear message about the need to advance global food safety initiatives. It was emphasized that as food safety problems are global, so must be the solutions. The further development of INFOSAN was one of the key areas highlighted in the resolution that was enthusiastically adopted by the Assembly. This includes encouraging communication and technical exchange of best practices among members of the Network, as well as, strengthening the emergency function of INFOSAN as a critical component of WHOï¿½s preventive and emergency operations relative to food safety.ï¿½
Rashid Mohamed Al Shariqi, Director General, Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority said: "The work on guaranteeing food safety and preempting food risks is of crucial importance. Both local and imported foods need to be constantly monitored. The Authority follows a policy of monitoring foods from the farm to the fork, encompassing the entire food chain, agriculture and animal health. The coming years will see more manifestations of the strategic plan of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in the sphere of food. We are looking at a promising food future," he pointed out.
The INFOSAN meeting was co-chaired by Dr. Jean Michel Poirson, senior officer for EMPRES Food Safety (Food Safety Emergency Prevention) in the Division for Nutrition and Consumer Protection (AGN) of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome and Dr. Maged Younis, Director of Food Safety and Zoonoses at the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva. Andrea Ellis from INFOSAN Secretariat at WHO also spoke on the occassion.
Dr. Alan Reilly, Chief Executive of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland gave the opening keynote speech at the event, which highlighted the importance of global cooperation in aims to provide the best food safety standards for consumers worldwide.
ï¿½The global nature and growing complexity of the food chain means that risks posed by unsafe foods have the potential to quickly evolve from a local problem to an international incident in a short period of time,ï¿½ Dr. Reilly said.
ï¿½The need to build closer linkages among food safety authorities internationally is well recognised by the World Health Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. Establishing INFOSAN has provided an important platform for rapidly exchanging information in the case of food safety crises and for sharing data on both routine and emerging food safety issues. There is a growing need for food authorities to be able to identify and respond to food safety incidents and to communicate food safety information to all stakeholders,ï¿½ he added.
The INFOSAN opening bought together over 200 internationally renowned officials and experts in food safety, including the Director General of Executive Directors at ADFCA, to discuss a number of important issues regarding global food safety.
The International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) was developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), to promote the exchange of food safety information and to improve global collaboration among food safety authorities. INFOSAN is a joint FAO/WHO initiative with the secretariat in WHO's Department of Food Safety and Zoonoses and is a focal point in FAO. The Abu Dhabi INFOSAN meeting is the first event of its kind to bring together member states and international experts to discuss food safety issues face to face.