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Established on 8 August 1967, in Bangkok, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, has ten Member States – Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Viet Nam, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Cambodia. One of the aims and purposes of ASEAN is to accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region.

The food industry is one ASEAN business sector with the potential to support economic growth. Within this industry, food safety is key to its success. Controlling food safety hazards is an important role of food manufacturers. They are responsible for ensuring the safety of their products in food supply chain. This can be achieved by implementation of relevant food safety regulations, industrial guidelines, codes of practice and food safety standards. Food manufacturers normally apply the Codex Alimentarius HACCP principles as part of their food safety management system. It also forms part of the legal requirements for some countries as well as by many food safety standards, such as BRC, IFS, FSSC, amongst others.

As referred to in Codex Alimentarius HACCP Principle 1, the HACCP team should list all of the hazards that may be reasonably expected to occur at each step according to the scope, from primary production, processing, manufacture, and distribution, until the point of consumption. The HACCP team should next conduct a hazard analysis to identify, for the HACCP plan, which hazards are of such a nature that their elimination or reduction to acceptable levels is essential to the production of a safe food. Relevant information needed to conduct the hazard analysis should be comprehensive and cover the latest scientific literature, historical and known hazards associated with specific food products, relevant codes of practice, recognised guidelines, relevant food safety legislation and customer requirements, etc.

In the past year, food safety issues have been alerted or notified in the EU Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed portal for some countries in ASEAN. Examples of the issues are presented in Table 1. Food manufacturers should consider these when conducting hazard analyses.

Product groupProductHazard
Fish and fish product Canned fish products Histamine, Mercury
Frozen fish products Histamine, Mercury, Cadmium
Poor temperature control
Crab stick Undeclared egg

Crustacean and products

Frozen cooked prawns Salmonella. Vibrio cholerae
Dried shrimp Cadmium
Cephalopod and products thereof Frozen cuttlefish Cadmium
Bivalve molluscs and products thereof Frozen cooked clama Noro virus, Salmonella
Fruits and vegetable Fresh papaya, aubergines, chilli,
dragon fruit, coriander leaves, parsley, celery, long bean, eggplant, luffa, okra
Pesticide residue
Dried banana, mango, pineapple Too high content of sulphite
Too high content of colourant
Unauthorised use of colourant
Slice galangal in brine,
pickled lime, water chestnut in brine
Too high content of sulphite
Undeclared sulphite
Unauthorised use of colourant
Paan leaves, morning glory, water spinach Salmonella
Ready to eat jackfruit, green mint, sweet basil Too high count of E.coli
Papaya Unauthorised GMO
Herb and spices Nutmeg
Cracker nuts
High count of E.coli
Nuts, nut products and seed Desiccated coconut Rodent excrement
Undeclared sulphite
Canned coconut milk Undeclared sulphite
Cereals and bakery products Noodles Unauthorised use of colourant
Rice noodle stick, flour mix Aluminium
Died egg noodle Undeclared gluten
Soups, broths, sauces and condiments Soy sauce 3-MCPD
Sauce Too high content of sulphite
Undeclared sulphite
Prepared dish and snack Crisps
Ready meal
Undeclared milk, soy, peanut
Poultry meat and poultry meat products Frozen chicken Salmonella
Source: RASFF Portal during 1 Jan 2014 – 31 Dec 2014.

For food manufacturers in ASEAN, with the same goal of achieving economic growth in the region, implementation and maintenance of effective food safety management system is the key.

Written by:

Ms. Boontarika Bampenpol
Systems & Services Certification
Assistant Food Product Manager