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  EU-ASEAN Workshop on Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed takes place in Vietnamslide

A Better Training for Safer Food workshop on the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) in Hanoi, Vietnam on 3-5 November 2009. The workshop should contribute to the maintenance of sustainable national and regional RASFFs in the ASEAN region and help to deepen cooperation with the EU RASFF.

Around 80 participants from across South-East Asia should attend. They will be mainly government officials and staff of competent authorities. Chairpersons of relevant ASEAN working groups are also invited.

This is the third such EU-ASEAN workshop, following those in Bangkok in June 2007 and Jakarta in June 2008. Sustained training missions were also organised in 2008 to support ASEAN RASFF (ARASF) members in organising national rapid alert systems.

Effective information exchange protecting consumers and trade

Rapid Alert Systems provide control authorities with effective tools for information exchange on food safety measures. In the EU, the RASFF consists of a network comprising EU Member States and the other European Economic Area countries, the Commission and the European Food Safety Authority. When a network member has information of a serious risk, it notifies the Commission, who transmits the information to the other members.

A relevant number of cases subject to EU RASFF notifications concern products imported from or exported to third countries. In 2008, third countries were informed 2342 times of a problem with a product originating from their country and 586 times of export to their country of products posing a risk.

ARASF has been in use for three years and has seven active members: Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Brunei, Indonesia and Singapore currently hold observer status.

Sustainable national and regional RASFFs in the ASEAN region will improve controls on products destined for domestic markets and correct problems with exports by improving communication between services involved in official controls of the food chain. This will reduce fragmentation of controls that often hinder efforts to make products safer.

Status of cooperation

The first day of the workshop will be dedicated to lectures on the status of cooperation on RASFF both between the EU and ASEAN and within ASEAN and on market expectations. The “RASFF Window”, an EU IT application allowing any country to check RASFF notifications related to its imports from or exports to the EU will also be introduced. Special attention will be paid to possible interaction with ARASF. The rest of the day will be spent illustrating the benefits of a regional rapid alert system in terms of trade and consumer protection.

On the second day, lectures and plenary discussions will focus on the establishment of sustainable RASFFs at national and regional level. Participants will work on the establishment of a Steering Committee for ARASF. The last day will be dedicated to drawing conclusions from the workshop.



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