Since 2009, Cyprus has submitted 327 food safety notifications to the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF), 245 of which were sent in by the island’s health services, Health Minister Giorgos Pamporidis said on Tuesday.
Addressing a food safety workshop in Larnaca co-organised by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the National Food Safety Council, Pamporidis said Cyprus had succeeded in establishing a robust food safety control system based on EU legislation.
Citing the figures, he also said that during the same period there had been nearly 18,000 applications for foodstuffs imports, 69 of which had been rejected.
“These remarkable figures in comparison to Cyprus’ small population, have placed Cyprus among the leading countries in the RASFF notification system,” he said.
RASFF enables information to be shared efficiently between its members states, Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland, and provides a round-the-clock service to ensure that urgent notifications are sent, received and responded to collectively and efficiently.
Pamporidis said the state lab had established a risk assessment unit and has developed its own risk assessment model to fully utilise all analytical results to protect consumer health.
The island has also succeeded in getting approximately €500,000 for implementing seven projects coordinated by the state lab under the ministry of health.
“Our efforts transcend EU borders since food safety is a global issue,” the minister said.
In 2010, he added, Cyprus had co-organised with DG SANTES a training programme for 13 neighbouring third countries on EU legislation and implementation of food control systems.
“But to reach to tangible results in a world facing many challenges and to ensure that safety and health standards are not only duly taken into account but even improved, we should strengthen ventures and promoting programmes that provide capacity building assistance to all stakeholders in the food chain and strengthen collaboration that will further initiatives for harmonisation,” Pamporidis said.
“The new global environment places considerable obligations on both importing and exporting countries to strengthen their food control system and to implement and enforce risk-based food safety strategies on harmonised regulations.”