ASEAN Center for Food Contact Materials Testing

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Department of Science Service answers the Thai food exporters’ call for the setting up of ASEAN Center of Expertise in Food Contact Materials to upgrade the safety of food contact materials in Thailand and to promote Thai food exports to the world market.

          Department of Science Service answers the Thai food exporters’ call for the setting up of ASEAN Center of Expertise in Food Contact Materials. The center, which is the only reference laboratory in food contact materials in ASEAN, will serve as reference source and certifying body for food contact materials for the Thai food industry aiming to develop competitive capability of Thai food exporters, to enhance Thailand’s export potentials as global food manufacturing hub, as well as to promote the economic growth of the country.
          Dr. Virachai Virameteekul, Minister of Science and Technology, chairs the official opening of ASEAN Center for Expertise in Food Contact Materials and reveals that “currently the Department of Science Service is the first state agency that provide quality and safety testing services for food contact materials in compliance with the international standard ISO/IEC: 17025. The Center, which was set up in response to the request made by the Thai manufacturers of canned pineapple and tuna products, whose exports rank first in the world market, as well as other food exporters to the EU market, is aimed to solve problems related to contaminations caused by food contact materials. As Thai food products are often facing detentions and rejections, it is imperative that Thailand has a laboratory capable to test the safety of food contact materials in order to solve contamination problems for the exporters. Besides food contamination problem, the Center is also aimed to develop the Thai food export potentials and to upgrade the country’s industry standard so that Thailand could maintain her leading position in the global food market in line with the government’s policy to make Thailand as the “World’s Kitchen”.
          The improvement of export potentials as well as the promoting and building up of food industry standard is of utmost importance to the Thai exporters. They do not only provide necessary supports and help reduce problems for exporters, but also serve as an exercise to make the Thai food manufactures ready to cope with the higher standards, especially in term of food safety, that the importing countries will start to impose on the Thai products. As it is expected that the new rules and regulations will affect the Thai packaged food products exported to countries in the EU market the most, the setting up of the Center is; therefore, an important preparation to secure one of Thailand’s most promising import markets, as the EU is the 4th largest importer of the Thai food products. In 2006, Thailand exported a total of 70 billion Baht of food products into the EU. This implied a market share of 2.7% with a high growth potential in the future.
          In addition to the EU market, ASEAN is also one of Thailand’s most important export markets for food and agricultural products, whose exports account for 16% of the total Thai export value. In 11M09, Thailand exported US$2,856.11 million of food and agricultural products to ASEAN and it is expected that such figure will continue to rise in 2010. In 2009, Thailand exported US$19,561.44 million of food and rice, down 7.37% YoY. However, representatives from various associations have forecasted that in 2010 exports on food and rice in general will grow 5-10% YoY, i.e. frozen/processed seafood will grow by 10-13%, canned seafood, fruits and vegetables will grow by 5%, chilled fruits and vegetables will grow by 7%, while frozen/processed chicken and rice will be stable YoY.”
          Mr. Kasem Piritburana, Director-General of the Department of Science Service said that seeing the importance of safety use of food packaging or food contact materials, ASEAN countries has decided to set up ASEAN Center of Expertise in Food Contact Materials as reference laboratory to enhance necessary technical infrastructure for packaged food products and to promote ASEAN economic unity in terms of food safety standard. In this regard, the Thai state agencies and private organizations, in their capacity as the sub-committee to consider the operation of the working group on Standard and Quality, have a consensus to promote the Department of Science Service as ASEAN reference laboratory for food contact materials. Later on Prepared Foodstuff Product Working Group (PFPWG) under the supervision of ASEAN Consultative Committee on Standard and Quality (ACCSQ) has resolved in its 11th meeting in July 2010 in Manila, the Philippines that Thailand by the Department of Science Service set up ASEAN reference laboratory for food contact materials.
          ASEAN Center of Expertise in Food Contact Materials, Department of Science Service, is highly equipped in terms of its academics, personnel and networking with international laboratories. It is ready to become the first and the only one reference laboratory in ASEAN; to serve as the main organization in collecting food related standards from member countries and streamline into one; to promote ASEAN economic unity in term of food industrial; to promote potential development; to enhance competitive capability of the Thai exporters on food contact materials so that they could become global food manufacturing hub; and to be a center that could provide solutions to the exporters in time. Lately, the center was assigned in conjunction with the Commerce Ministry as the certifying body for food contact materials exported to Turkey. In the future, it is expected that the Center will become central laboratory on contamination testing and certifying body for food contact materials based on scientific proofs and in accordance with pertaining rules and regulations in the EU, ASEAN countries as well as other new trading partners.