Mar 7, 2023

Strengthening food control and phytosanitary capacities and governance’ in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

 A five-day workshop on the project ‘Strengthening food control and phytosanitary capacities and governance’ in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) was organised in Mauritius. Associate Professor D. Goburdhun represented the Faculty of Agriculture at the workshop held from 27 Feb 2023 to 03 March 2023, at Caudan Arts Center.

The project aims to provide technical support to the operationalisation of the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Policy Framework for Africa and enable rational planning for the strengthening of national food control systems. The FAO/WHO Food Control System Assessment Tool will be used to assess the national food control system of Mauritius. The Minister highlighted the importance of effective food control management involving clear standards and regulations that govern the production, distribution, and sale of food products. He also emphasised the role of enforcement activities and the two main laboratories in Mauritius for testing the safety and nutritional quality of food products. The Acting UN Resident Coordinator for Mauritius and Seychelles, Ms Amanda Serumaga, highlighted the significance of the project in enhancing the food control system in Mauritius, which is funded by the European Union to the tune of five million euros.

In this context, a team of experts Dr Dennis Bittisnich, Lead Assessor, Mr David Eboku, Assessor, Mr Faizal Jawaheer, National Consultant and Mr Yousouf Gaungoo, National Project Coordinator visited the Faculty of Agriculture to explore opportunities for our  contribution to the local food control system. 

The discussion revolves around the following areas:

  • Our first responsibility is to provide training to individuals who work in the food industry, such as public health food inspectors, on the necessary skills and knowledge required to maintain food safety and quality. This includes training on proper hygiene and sanitation practices, good manufacturing practices, hazard analysis, and critical control points, among others.
  • In addition to providing training, we also play a critical role in creating awareness and promoting the importance of food safety among the general public. This includes educating consumers on the dangers of consuming contaminated food and providing them with information on how to identify safe and high-quality food products.
  • Another important role we play is in conducting research and development on new and innovative food safety technologies and techniques. This includes developing new methods for detecting and controlling foodborne pathogens, improving food processing technologies, and developing new food preservation methods.

During our discussion, several critical issues in the food control sector were brought to light. The fraudulent practices in the fishing industry and food fraud are major concerns that must be addressed. Additionally, the shortage of personnel in the food control system is a significant challenge that needs immediate attention. The indiscriminate use of antibiotics and pesticides in the food industry is also alarming and requires urgent measures to mitigate their adverse effects on food safety and public health. It is essential to work collaboratively to develop effective strategies and policies to ensure that the food control system is effective in safeguarding food safety and public health.

It is important to note that hotels themselves are responsible for ensuring the safety and quality of their food service, and may have their own protocols and audits in place to ensure compliance with local health and safety regulations [8]. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the hotel to maintain food safety standards and protocols, regardless of any audits conducted by tour operators.

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