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December 10, 2018

Food safety is a priority

  • Investment in food safety management systems is a prerequisite for the growth of the country’s agribusiness, a key sector of Myanmar’s economy. This is because the problem of food safety has an impact on the health and lives of the people, and it is also related to economic development and social stability.
    To ensure food safety, all stakeholders in the food supply chain need to come together to implement food safety practices and safety management systems to create a quality life.
    Manufacturers play a vital role in food safety. Both responsibility and accountability are crucial when it comes to production.
    We also need to step up efforts to enforce food safety rules to prevent entry of goods imported illegally, which can harm public health.
    Manufacturers need to adopt good manufacturing practices as well as good storage practices. The Ministry of Health and Sports is conducting campaigns for raising consumer awareness on food safety, promoting health literacy, and enforcing food safety measures in accordance with rules, regulations, and guidelines.
    All stakeholders in the food supply chain, including manufacturers, consumers, and authorities, need to cooperate in this. The ministry has been assessing the market to set food safety standards and norms in order to ensure quality products in the market.
    With food safety in mind, Myanmar enacted the Consumer Protection Law in 2014. The National Food Law, enacted in 1997, needs to be amended. Prior to the institution of the labeling law, local products and imported goods will require labeling in Myanmar, according to a notification issued by the government in June.
    The ministry alone cannot implement this. Concerted efforts need to be made by all stakeholders in the food industry, including consumer associations, NGOs, CBOs and CSOs.
    Unsafe food accounts for an estimated annual productivity loss of around US$500-750 million every year in Myanmar.
    Further, inadequate food safety standards and practices can inhibit growth of agribusinesses and shut out domestic companies from global value chains, according to the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group.
    From the government to enterprises to consumers, each group must pitch in and understand how adopting a world-class food safety management system will help Myanmar increase exports and create jobs, and thereby, fuel economic
    growth.
    We need a regulatory framework and measures to address food safety in a systematic and sustainable way.
    At the same time, enterprises and individuals must take care to abide by laws and regulations and follow the principles of social responsibility.

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