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Food safety problem: an issue that must be addressed

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, May 14
A presentation of the report - Food Safety Regulation in Georgia: Assessment of the Government's Reform Efforts in 2012, was held at the Tbilisi Marriott Hotel on May 13th.

The report was prepared on the initiative of the Eurasia Partnership Foundation (EPF), in the framework of the project Promoting Civil Society Engagement in Food Safety Reform in Georgia and funded by the European Union (EU) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

Authors of the report– Ketevan Dadiani and Rezo Kobakhidze– evaluated activities implemented in 2012 by the government of Georgia in the food safety regulation field. Further discussions over the issue aimed at identifying the obstacles hindering the implementation of needed reforms and outlined recommendations for overcoming these obstacles in order to hold an informed discussion between civil society and government representatives.

The report presented at the event is yet a draft. The EPF, together with the authors of the report, have gathered comments from competent organizations and persons which will be reflected in the final version as remarks before publication.

According to the report, Georgia implemented important reforms in terms of food safety in 2012 to determine uniform principles for regulating the sphere, developed an effective system of control and ensured that the life and health of people are protected. However, the mechanisms to ensure transparency, accountability and involvement of civil society in monitoring the process remain weak.

The report says that apart from the fact that “the reforms in the food safety sector were often undertaken without consideration for consumer rights, with entrepreneurial interests dominating those of the Georgian consumer. Yet they still failed to ensure adequate protection of the commercial interests of food product business operators and to create a favorable business environment.”

The majority of the entrepreneurs interviewed for the assessment lamented about the unequal treatment. It is mentioned in the overview of the report that “despite the institutional reforms undertaken, oversight of entrepreneurs remains weak and the system of food-related risk assessment is plagued with limitations.” Thus, the country has yet to establish an effective food safety regulation system that would ensure significant progress in this sphere and enjoy high levels of trust from both the stakeholders and the society at large.

The report says regulations on hygiene and food additives have not revised since 2001 and, if not addressed, will continue to threaten the wellbeing of Georgian citizens. Even though the new Georgian government is aware of the problems in food safety regulation field and has started to address them, this will require intensive and coordinated effort of relevant public agencies, and their effective cooperation with business community and civil society organizations.