Food Safety is a critical issue in Indonesia. Food safety is closely related with health and productivity, and also helps to ensure export competitiveness of food and agricultural products. Food must meet some criteria and requirements. Every stage of the food chain must meet the standard so that food can be safe to consume. Safety measures ensure food to be free from possibility of biological, chemical and other pollutants but not conflicting with belief and culture of the society.
The National Agency for Drug and Food Control (NADFC) of Indonesia plays a leading role to ensure food safety. Local name of NADFC is Badan Pom or BPOM. More than 4000 staff of BPOM are working in 33 provincial offices with ISO/IEC 17O25 accredited laboratories. There are about one million food industries of which only one per cent are large industries and the rest are small and medium industries in Indonesia. They are facing challenges of unregistered imported foods, hazardous chemical foods, excess use of food additives, contaminants, nanotechnology and biotechnology in food processing, radiation, etc. Broadly adopting from the New Zealand food safety system, they implement mainly risk-based control systems. Emphasis has been given on improving human resources, strengthening capacity of laboratory testing, partnership among stakeholders, improving supervision and assistance to business operators. Risk Assessment Center for Food Safety prepares a list of a pool of experts, coordinates risk assessment, risk management and facilitates communication with implementing networks. Deputy for Food Safety and Hazardous Substance Control of NADFC prepare food regulation and standardisation. They generally follow codex values for additives and contaminants. Prevailing laws to control food safety are Law 8/1999 on consumer protection, Law 36/2009 on health, Law 18/ on food, and regulation 69/ 1999 on food labeling and advertising, regulation 28/2004 on food safety, quality and nutrition and regulation 33/2012 on food additives.
Indonesian Agriculture Quarantine Agency (IAQA) looks after the safety of imported fresh food following regulation regarding Food Safety Control on Importation and Exportation of Fish and Plant Origin. They mainly follow Good Agricultural Practice, Good Handling Practice, and Good Manufacturing Practice. Imported food items are checked by the Plant Quarantine Officer at entry point by analysing certificate of analysis issued by a testing laboratory approved by IAQA. Fish Quarantine and Inspection Agency (FQIA) control the Inspection and
Certification System for Quality and Safety Assurance of Fishery Products. Fisheries businesses are widely spread in Indonesia both on a small and large scale. Lack of knowledge of stakeholders about food safety is the main impediment to ensure quality fisheries products. FIQA has improved significantly by implementing law no 45/2009 and regulation 57/2014. They organise training courses on Hazard Analysis Critical Control (HACCP) and Good Aquaculture Practice to create awareness among stakeholders. FIQA issues certificates to fish processing plants. Health certificate is a must to export any fish products. Quarantine requirements for imports of animal, fish and plant explained in law no 16 of 1992 animal quarantine in regulation 82 of 2000 and plant quarantine in regulation no 14 of 2002. In seaports quarantine officials examine both imports and export goods about pesticide residue, antibiotics and hormone, mycotoxins, heavy metals and biological contaminants.
The Ministry of Health usually coordinated management of surveillance programs of foodborne disease outbreak and investigation. The outbreak of food poisoning is an event where two or more people become ill with the same symptom or nearly the same after getting the same food. Epidemiological analysis of food confirms the source of infection. Foodborne disease outbreaks generally during holidays, religious holidays, festivals, social parties, etc. District and provincial level surveillance officers used to analyse the food sample and report to provincial level Rapid Response Team and ministry of health.
Private food companies are also harmonising their production and packaging as per direction of the government. Different dairy products are fortified with vitamin A, B and D following the regulation made by NADFC. A good number of food markets are also coming up with the concept of Healthy Market. These healthy market authorities are taking support from local BPOM offices to supply hazard free quality products in the market. BPOM provides knowledge, guidance and free of cost test kits initially to popularise the health market concept in the society. BPOM provides a food safety mobile van at the entry gate of the market and distributes food safety posters, leaflets, and play videos to create awareness among the public at large. This mobile van also has a mini laboratory and qualified inspectors to test samples on the spot. This healthy market concept has drawn public attention for getting safe food at a reasonable price.
Universities and training institutes are teaching about food safety and quality management systems. But because of the large number of islands and vast areas of the country, many people are not getting food safety information properly. Adulteration is done for business competition; therefore, laws are not giving effective results all the time and places properly. Shortcomings of regulation, shortage of resources and working facilities are the main barriers to success. On the other side high prices of quality goods, lack of public awareness and less purchasing power are the main hindrance for the public to adopt a food safety system. Despite all limitations, government ministries and departments are implementing an integrated food safety system in Indonesia to harmonise the strategic steps of all the stakeholders to improve food safety. They are emphasising on capacity building of the food testing laboratories in government agencies and strengthening information, education, communication and training. As pre marketing evaluation, government agencies verify technical requirements and production facilities audit. As a post market measure, they monitor, inspect and test samples. Law has empowered suspension, warning, recalling, removal, banning, penalty and fine of license. Indonesia is moving forward to implement step by step science-based food safety systems. We can learn and adopt from their system as per our necessity.
Md Abu Abdullah is a retired Additional Secretary and former Director General of Bangladesh Accreditation Board and Shahedul Islam is an advocate