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MENAFN - Muscat Daily - 13/11/2012

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(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Oman needs a national agency to meet various challenges related to food safety, according to an international food safety expert.A workshop highlighting different aspects of setting up food safety agencies was held at the recently-held Oman International Food Safety Conference. The workshop, facilitated by Professor Raymond O' Rourke, food and consumer lawyer, Ireland, looked into the role of various national safety agencies.In the context of setting up a food safety agency in the country, Professor Rourke said, ''I think Oman is in a good position at the moment in terms of trying to establish a food agency because there are various models one could look at both in the European context, Canada and even in GCC, with Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi.''He added that a committee or task force should be set up to look into the best model that would suit Oman, both for its domestic or potential export market. ''I think the model that would suit Oman best is the Canadian one as it is a single agency approach."It would cover all the enforcements and inspections from farm to table, but the one area which could be problematic is related to customs and border posts as that would remain with the existing agencies."Another issue that you would have to think of is whether the agency has a role in terms of nutrition,'' Professor Rourke added.He said that the other model that could be followed in a single agency format is the one of Finland, where again the customs and border posts are checked by a separate body.''Even at the municipality level and the lower level, all the inspectors would be personnel from the agency. A halfway position between that is an example of my own country Ireland, where you retain the people in their respective ministries but they have a contractual employment with that agency to carry out inspections at various times on its behalf.''He also spoke on the makeup of a national food agency including a SWOT analysis of a national food control system, the necessity of setting up a risk analysis model, and policy issues that would have to be dealt with when setting up a national food agency.


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