Training focuses on food safety standards

Participants engage in discussions at the Food Safety Program training. Picture: SUPPLIED

Participants engage in discussions at the Food Safety Program training. Picture: SUPPLIED

EXPORTERS and staff of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) in Samoa were reminded of the importance of the Food Safety Program during training last week.

The training was organised by the Australia and New Zealand-funded Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA) Program to create awareness of the value of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), a food safety standards system.

The training was also organised to improve understanding of the HACCP concept and principles among stakeholders.

Apiame Cegumalua, a HACCP Australia adviser who conducted the training, said the Food Safety Program, a HACCP-based certification program, was a way for exporters to safeguard their interests.

“Exporters and MAFF staff were again reminded of the importance of the Food Safety Program – the HACCP Plan for their product, their business and their markets. It is important that they realise that through the Food Safety Program they are safeguarding their interests, the continuity of the export in gaining confidence of clients and consumers as well as for their nation,” she said.

Mr Cegumalua said it was of national interest that participants adhered to safety practices.

“We, HACCP Australia through PHAMA funding, will continue to build their capacity and assist them through proper guidance and training so they can be recognised internationally through HACCP accreditation. It is vital that we all work together, support each other and improve our standard of process and practices because this requires teamwork.”

Participants were trained on the procedures required to ensure their products are safe. PHAMA’s support of this training is aligned with its priority to maintain market access by developing the capacity of the public and private sectors to meet market requirements, in this case by complying with international food safety standards through HACCP accreditation.

John Low, an exporter of taro and dry coconut who participated in the training, said: “The training is useful in the facilitation of food safety through HACCP, especially as it enhances the competitiveness of our products in the overseas markets.”

Tanu Toomata, MAF’s senior officer who is responsible for the management of the MAF-Atele Packhouse, said he hoped to see improvements in compliance.

“The HACCP program is good, and I look forward to the exporters improving their level of compliance when using the facility. That will make it even better,” he said.

PHAMA is also supporting a pre-audit exercise for companies in the program to prepare them for the official HACCP audit which will determine whether they will receive accreditation.