Food safety. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) developed, with the collaboration of technical teams from different countries, a document with guidance in the framework of a project entitled “Digital Solutions in Support of Improved Official Food Control Services”. The objective of the document is to provide guidance for the design and implementation of a food control system that is adapted to the national needs and resources of each country that wants to implement it, and allows for a deeper understanding of food safety and food security.
The “Technical Guide for the Implementation of Electronic Notification Systems for Food Control” identifies the requirements necessary to establish an electronic notification system and goes into the legal framework necessary for its existence. It also describes the resources required for such a system – human, hardware and software – and establishes its typical structure, including the responsibilities to be assigned, the types of notifications and the necessary institutional arrangements. Finally, it stresses the need for data traceability and the importance of its format, which should allow international exchange of information if necessary.
According to the document, more than a third of agri-food exports are carried out in global value chains, which means that they cross borders at least twice before reaching the final consumer. The complexity of food supply chains and the growing importance of global agri-food trade in food create new and greater challenges for food safety management. The role of a notification system is to inform competent authorities and other stakeholders, including food businesses and consumers, when a food product is found to present a health risk or not to comply with the legal requirements of the food control system.
This document could provide guidance to national food control authorities seeking to implement a new food control notification system, or those seeking to upgrade an existing system to the electronic notification format.