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Agencies active to ensure int’l food standards

Staff Correspondent
26 Mar 2023 00:00:00 | Update: 26 Mar 2023 00:09:17
Agencies active to ensure int’l food standards
Officials of Bangladesh Food Safety Authority, FAO, and Codex Alimentarius Commission at a workshop on food code at a hotel in Dhaka on Saturday – Courtesy Photo

The Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA), supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), marked a major step towards harmonisation with the international ‘food code’ through a workshop held in the capital on Saturday.

Development of food standards in Bangladesh has been making good progress over the past several years and the workshop was a milestone on that journey, reads a press release.

Cabinet Secretary, Md Mahbub Hossain, was the chief guest at the event chaired by BFSA Chairman Md Abdul Kayowm Sarker held at the InterContinental Dhaka where Agriculture Ministry Secretary Wahida Akter; Food Ministry Secretary Md Ismiel Hossain were present as the special guests.

The ‘Food Code’ or Codex Alimentarius is a collection of standards, guidelines, and codes of practice adopted by the Codex Alimentarius Commission. The commission is the central part of the Food Standards Programme which was established by FAO and the World Health Organization to protect consumer health and promote fair practices in the food trade. Codex standards also facilitate international trade through the removal of non-tariff barriers caused by differing national food standards and ensure fair practices in the food trade.

“Bangladesh’s food is becoming more international: not only is Bangladesh producing more food, but it is also exporting and importing more food. That is why harmonization with international standards is so important. With support from FAO, Bangladesh is now well on its way to harmonizing with Codex standards and in doing so, the country is laying the foundations to establish itself as a trusted supplier of quality, safe food”, said FAO Representative Robert D. Simpson at the workshop.

Through its Meeting the Undernutrition Challenge (MUCH) project, which is co-funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the European Union, FAO has been assisting Bangladesh to modernise its food control system and accelerate the implementation of internationally accepted food standards and best practices.

In October 2022, BFSA constituted 27 technical working groups, comprising stakeholders drawn from the government, academia, technical experts, and the private sector, to develop food standards regulations based on Codex international standards, while being mindful of making them accessible to Bangladesh’s micro, small, and medium enterprises.

Codex Secretary Tom Heilandt congratulated stakeholders via a video message and said “More than 11,200 food standards were drafted by 27 technical working groups with more than 200 experts in the relevant areas. Out of these, 36 experts from India worked with Bangladeshi experts to get this job done, which is an amazing reflection of international cooperation. Alignment with Codex standards is a dynamic process and Bangladesh needs to participate actively in the Codex meetings.”

Former Chairperson of Codex Alimentarius and FAO international food safety expert, Sanjay Dave gave a keynote address on the significance of aligning food safety and quality regulations with Codex at the event where Maurizio Cian, head of cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh also spoke, among others.