The spread of covid-19 has affected supply chains and international trade across the region. But concerns among food safety stakeholders and consumers that covid-19 might be transmitted through food – messages largely driven by inaccurate and incomplete information – has further fueled the misunderstandings.
In response, FAO and its partners are convening a four-day Regional Food Safety Conference in Asia and the Pacific.
The virtual Bangkok-based forum is re-examining many of the claims of alleged covid-19 tainted food imports to restore confidence and good hygiene in food handling, processing and consumption.
"Across Asia and the Pacific, news on food safety issues frequently hits the headlines and reports of food contamination and foodborne diseases regularly cause alarm among the public and impact local businesses," said Jong-Jin Kim, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative, in a press release on Tuesday.
"The concern among consumers may reflect a lack of confidence in the way food safety is enforced and practiced, and that’s why a forum such as this is important to restore confidence with respect to the coronavirus, but also to recall that, at the same time, good food hygiene is necessary to avoid contracting other quite serious foodborne diseases," the FAO official explained.
Food safety experts from across the region are emphasizing the critical importance of pre-requisite food safety programmes such as good hygiene practices and they are underlining the need for a concerted effort to promote food safety standards and Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures as well as investments in new technologies and digitalization.