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The training course on the Food Safety Management System for Auditors/Lead Auditors was conducted in Malaysia, 14–20 January 2009, as a face-to-face follow-up to the e-learning course held in 2008. The majority of participants were graduates of the e-learning course. The program was designed to meet the requirements of the UK’s International Register of Certificated Auditors (IRCA). The course added 19 more food safety management system auditors to the 19 IRCA-certified ISO22000:2005 auditors previously trained by the APO in 2007. Only participants who passed the examination at the end of the course received certification. The APO requested participants who had successfully completed both courses to share their experiences, and the comments of four are given below.
Day by day, fast food outlets dominated by SMEs are blooming all around the country, especially in economic centers. Now more than ever, the people of Sri Lanka are increasingly susceptible to food safety hazards. The assurance of safety in food products is also important given the expanding market for processed agricultural products on the global market. However, poor management systems and a general lack of knowledge of this issue pose big problems for Sri Lanka’s food industry. Therefore, APO efforts to impart such information are both timely and welcome. The January 2009 course was a face-to-face follow-up to the e-learning course in 2008 which had given me a very clear overview of the ISO22000 standard and its application. As I am employed by a food-processing company, the e-learning course encouraged me to look at the routine of food-processing operations from different perspectives. The follow-up course conducted in January was an extension and involved interactive expert presentations, group work, role playing, and field visits that were very informative and interesting. In addition, the participants maintained focus for the final examination. I will use my improved competence in my company to improve the existing food safety management system. At the same time, I will work with the National Productivity Secretariat to disseminate the knowledge and skills acquired from the project in Sri Lanka. This will include the development of publications on food safety management, written in simple local language for SMEs.
Lifestyles in India are changing rapidly with economic development. An increasing number of people are choosing to consume processed foods, and therefore concerns about food safety have increased correspondingly. Given the rapid growth of both the food industry and the increased global trade, it is important for India to make management systems more efficient, ensure food safety, and maximize the opportunities for further growth in this field.
The 2008 e-learning course provided an overview of issues concerning the different approaches to food safety through expert lectures and discussions. The follow-up training course in 2009 was also well coordinated with role playing, team building, discussions, and presentations. We gained an in-depth understanding of the standards and requirements of the ISO series. The auditing procedures, including technical and soft skills, were discussed in detail. Moreover, the site visit took us to two local organizations that had adopted different approaches to management systems. This provided further insight on how to implement food safety management systems properly. The knowledge and skills that I gained will help me prepare current and future professionals in this field through various means. Currently, I am involved in auditing dairy industries in India, many of which are seeking ISO22000 certification. I now feel more confident in assisting other food processing industries in preparation for certification.
Thailand has long been an agriculture-based country. Although it has become more industrialized, we are still producing agricultural products from farm to fork. The government has supported the agriculture sector and would like to create a perception of Thailand as being the “kitchen of the world.” Therefore, if we are to be competitive in the international market, food safety issues are critical. The APO training courses provided me with the opportunity to share information on current food safety issues with participants from other member countries. The follow-up course was useful to learn how to interpret and apply global standards to different organizations and environments. It also helped participants learn to think and act like auditors.
Pakistan is a major exporter of textile and rice. The food industry in Pakistan is growing, and issues connected with food safety are assuming greater importance. As a senior staff member of the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority, it is very important for me to know how to address this important topic. While the e-learning course was an introduction to the ISO22000 food safety management system, the follow-up program was more intensive and focused on how to implement the system. It was a great experience to share knowledge and experience with other participants. In addition, the site visits to Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre and High 5 Bread Town were informative. I will definitely share what I learned with my colleagues and do my utmost to change the mindsets of people involved in the food industry from HACCP certification to the ISO22000 standard so that they will pay more attention to the issue of food safety.