Many Asian countries compete at international food markets. The region also contributes to a larger share of the growing aquaculture industry which supplies over 50% of the global animal protein requirement. These exporting countries must not only ensure the safety and quality of their products but also should meet the food safety and animal health requirements of the importing countries. Further, many countries in the region are net food importers and require effective verification mechanisms to ensure the quality and safety of food being imported and consumed by their citizens. Functional food safety laboratories that meet international standards are essential to fulfill the above international trade requirements. While some Asian countries have successful and strong national residue monitoring programs backed up by well-established laboratory facilities, many require continued support to improve their laboratory facilities, monitoring and surveillance activities. In order to support the member states with a less well developed food safety monitoring and surveillance programs and to promote collaboration and cooperation among the food safety laboratories in the Asian region, the International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna (IAEA) initiated and funded the regional project entitled “Enhancing Food Safety Laboratory Capabilities and Establishing a Network in Asia to Control Veterinary Drug Residues and Related Chemical Contaminants”, a foundation for this network, with the following objectives.
The network welcomes all food safety stakeholders (beyond laboratories) to join and enhance sharing of experiences, knowledge and promote. Development partners are encouraged to join and provide necessary support.
While the project seeks to promote networking among countries, charity must start at home. Attaining effective food control systems requires multi/inter-institutional cooperation. Therefore as many institutions in a country are welcome to take part. Thus, any project counterpart is a coordinator and an avenue for disseminating knowledge and creating among local stakeholders. The network, especially, desires to benefit end-users including among others, farmers/producers, providing adequate information to influence policy and ultimately meaningfully safeguard consumers and where possible boots trade through reliable monitoring systems backed by sound and internationally respectable laboratories.