The food safety system of Egypt is undergoing a major transition with the newly established National Food Safety Authority (NFSA). NFSA will oversee the safety of food products with the aim of improving regulatory oversight and efficiency in the food system.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) held a recent workshop in Cairo to shed more light on risk-based approaches in ensuring food safety in the grain sector. Participants included both private and public wheat importers, flour millers, and other government agencies whose roles intersect with NFSA.
Iride Ceccacci, Principal of Agribusiness Advisory of the EBRD, said that Egypt’s food safety decision-makers had a promising window of opportunity to reorganise their networks and means of operation, the objective being to achieve savings overall and a more attractive environment for international investment.
In 2018, wheat imports amounted to 12.5 million tonnes with 7.5 million tonnes of that total going towards subsidised bread known as baladi (folk) bread; a key contribution to food security.
NFSA in collaboration with other government agencies, such as the Central Administration of Plant Quarantine (CAPQ), and private traders will play a crucial role in enhancing the efficiency of the grain sector. Handling grain inspection procedures to determine safety and quality of imported grains will be become the primary responsibility of the NFSA. This will result in streamlining the inspection procedures and saving costs for consumers.
Having started discussions with NFSA in 2017 in its early inception days under the public-private policy dialogue in the Egyptian grain sector project, EBRD and FAO recognised the importance of NFSA’s development, and ran training and knowledge exchange programmes on grain handling and inspection procedures.
“We stand committed to working with all involved in food safety in Egypt to enhance our capacities by operating more efficiently across the supply chain, thereby ensuring food security in our country for our people,” said Hussein Mansour, Chairman of the NFSA.
Now, as NFSA builds its institutional capacity, FAO and EBRD gear up to train food business operators and raise awareness around registration requirements and food traceability.
Hussein Gadain, FAO Representative in Egypt, said that, with food safety gaining high priority in Egypt, FAO has been working with development partners on sanitary and phytosanitary measures, sustainable agriculture, and good hygienic practices. “We support NFSA in preparing the capacity development plan to enhance food safety,” he said.
22 July 2019