(MENAFN- Daily News Egypt) The Food Export Council, in collaboration with the Food Information and Inspection Systems Support Project and the Central Laboratory of Residue Analysis of Pesticides and Heavy Metals in Food, organized a symposium on the common challenges of processed foods from agricultural origin to the European Union and the USA.
The symposium aimed to raise awareness among food exporters about the food safety standards and regulations required by the EU and the US markets, and to identify the root causes of food safety problems in foods of agricultural origin.
The Food Information and Inspection Systems Support Project is a project supported and funded by the US Department of Agriculture, which started in Egypt in October 2018. The project's main objectives are to support and strengthen the organizational capacity, technical skills, and policies and regulations of the National Food Safety Authority (NFSA), in accordance with the highest applicable international standards.
Khaled Shedid, Deputy Director of the project, said that the project, in cooperation with the Food Export Council and under the supervision of the NFSA and the Central Administration of Plant Quarantine (CAPQ), will adopt and support a programme to qualify the primary supplier, who is responsible for providing the raw materials for the processed foods so that he can understand and address the food safety issues in his products.
Shedid also said that the project will work closely with the Food Export Council to help its members comply with the requirements of the NFSA, which will enhance the quality and competitiveness of Egyptian manufactured foods, and have a positive impact on the national economy.
Mohamed Mohamady, Director of the Technical Department of the project, said that the project management analyzed the most common reasons for the rejection of Egyptian products, especially in the EU and the US markets, during the past 10 years. He said that the main reason was the presence of pesticide residues in exported foods at higher than permitted percentages, which poses a serious threat to the health of consumers and the reputation of Egyptian products.
Mohamady added that the project management conducted a study on 17 companies in three different sectors, namely spices, vegetables, frozen fruit and pickles sector, to find out the reasons for rejecting their products during that period. The study revealed that 23% of the companies had their products rejected and that 82% of the rejections were due to pesticide residues, 36% were due to microbial contaminants, and 23% were due to fungal toxins.
The study also showed that only 3% of the companies depend on their own farms, 82% depend on suppliers, and 2% buy their products from markets. The study also indicated that 82% of the companies have programmes to control their suppliers, which need to be reviewed and improved, and that 17% of the companies do not have such programmes. Moreover, the study showed that 88% of the companies conduct the required analyses before exporting, which need to be examined and verified for their accuracy and timeliness.
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