“The management of food safety emergencies is rarely the responsibility of a single national authority, and timely and coordinated collaboration among all partners is required to ensure an effective response,” said the organisations.
Although several countries have well developed food control systems with response plans already in place, there is currently no guidance documenting the best practices to use whilst developing the plans, or what the plans should contain, they said.
The organisations said the document provided general guidance to be used in the development of country-specific plans. WHO and FAO acknowledged that one set of general templates cannot be used for all countries due to the diversity of national food control systems, taking into account varying levels of development and different food safety hazards.
The guidelines also address the importance of adopting both multiagency and multidisciplinary approaches, said the organisations.
“This is because an effective response can be achieved only through coordination and proper preparation of the various agencies that should be involved in the response process, given the complex nature of many food safety emergencies,” said the organisations.
The document consists of five sections covering the necessary steps required before the development of national food safety emergency plans and important issues to be considered by all partners when drafting a plan.
The core section of the document “Key elements of an emergency response plan” provides guidance on essential topics to be included in the plan.
WHO and FAO said the plans are consistent with the Risk Analysis concept, a process that consists of three components: risk assessment, risk management and risk communication (FAO/WHO. 2005)
The publication of the document follows requests from member states for technical assistance in developing such plans and can be read HERE.