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TASKFORCE on Risk Assessment in Food Safety – an effort to bring policy and research together

The essence of “TASKFORCE on Risk Assessment” is to gather policy makers and researchers, working on food safety, who are from Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), research institutes and universities in Vietnam, provincial food safety and animal health departments to exchange information and research results, leading to better policy decisions. This year TASKFORCE meeting celebrated its third instalment on 18th November 2014 in Dong Hoi city, Quang Binh province as the side event of the 7th Annual conference  on Food Safety – a focus on stree food of the  Ministry of Health. The former aimed at reviewing all risk assessment case studies conducted within the framework of various related food safety research and seeking consultations for the two drafted Manuals on using Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA) and Chemical Risk Assessment in food safety.

Following up with two previous workshops which held in July and December 2013, this time, the Center for Public Health and Ecosystem Research (CENPHER) at Hanoi School of Public Health brought the same faces such as Dr. Nguyen Hung Long- deputy director general of VFA, Dr. Lam Quoc Hung -  VFA , Mr. Luu Van Ba – Department of Animal Health (DAH)/MARD, members of taskforce, and others to the discussion.

Photo 1: Participants attending the 3rd TASKFORCE meeting at the Sai Gon-Quang Binh hotel, Dong Hoi city, Quang Binh province of Vietnam

Six case studies were presented and received critical comments and inputs from experts. Those studies were targeted on hot food safety issues such as heavy metal contamination of water spinach and tilapia fish, antibiotic residues in pork, the prevalence of E. coli and helminth eggs in vegetables at bun cha (grilled pork noodle) shops in Hanoi, experimental cross contamination of Salmonella in pork and its health risk assessment, in health risk assessment. In the second half of the discussion, the two drafted manuals namely “Guideline on Using QMRA in Food Safety” and “Guideline on Using Chemical Risk Assessment in Food Safety” were commented. These publications were built on initial results of different research conducted by the research group at CENPHER and its partners.

Photo 2: Participants were split into fourgroups of which one worked on QMRA in food safety while the other works on Chemical Risk Assessment in food safety to comment on the two drafted manual

TASKFORCE meeting is in line with the activities of CENPHER in promoting risk assessment in research as well as risk management in policy making. Besides, research and training, such kind of networking and knowledge translation efforts brought policy makers and researchers from different disciplines to the same table. It is notably that in all of its meetings, TASKFORCE got attentions from health and agricultural experts.

Photo 3: interesting cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary side discussion of experts from VFA/MOH, DAH/MARD, Vietnam National University of Agricultural (VNUA), HSPH, ILRI

This regular event and most presented risk assessment case studies were funded by the Agriculture for Nutrition and Health Program of CGIAR through the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC)  through Swiss Embassy in Vietnam.