Ministry delivers food safety plan
The Minister of Health, Tuitama Dr. Leao Talalelei Tuitama, has unveiled the Ministry’s plan to further strengthen Samoa’s ability to ensure the safety and quality of its food supply.
“We are taking action for the future to ensure that Samoans continue to access safe and suitable food locally and at the same time ensuring that Samoa’s food business operators continue to produce safe and good quality food for both domestic and international markets,” he said.
“To achieve this we introduced a modern Food Act in 2015, we are finalizing new food safety and quality regulations with a strong scientific foundation and are developing guidelines on food recall for both government and food business operators.”
On Monday 2 May 2016, the Director General for Health, Leausa Toleafoa Dr. Take Naseri, advised a combined group of government officers and food business operators that “Food production has been industrialized and its trade and distribution have been globalized.
“As a consequence, the diversity and quantity of food available to populations around the world, including our Samoan population, has increased significantly.”
However on the negative side, he warned that “the manufacturing and pre-packaging of food have extended and complicated the food production and consumption chain and increased the chance for food to become contaminated”
“In the interest of protecting public health and limiting the spread of any problem, there is a need to have in place strong and effective response mechanisms such as rapid and efficient outbreak response and food recall processes that result in decisive action and the rapid removal of unsafe food from the market; and informs consumers of the problem when unsafe food has reached them.”
Assistant C.E.O, Maee Ualesi Silva, advised the gathering of government officers and food business representatives that the Division of Health Protection and Enforcement (HPED) of the Ministry of Health was actively consulting with the food industry in the strengthening of the food recall system for Samoa and emphasized that the Food Safety Unit of the Ministry of Health “was responsible for providing oversight of any food recall and for enforcing and coordinating actions among all food business operators while also ensuring that communication with consumers, businesses, relevant international bodies and competent authorities in other countries was clear, sound and effective”.
Maee emphasized however that “food business operators have primary legal responsibility for ensuring the safety of food under their control and consequently they are also primarily responsible for the removal of unsafe food from the market in cooperation with the competent authorities”.
The Director General of Health said the commitment to protecting people’s health and safety is the main focus of the Ministry’s plan to further strengthen Samoa’s ability to ensure the safety and quality of its food supply but also emphasized that a cooperative relationship among public health officials, other government agencies and industry is also important for the food industry’s contribution to Samoa’s economic growth and social wellbeing.