Thirty-two science communicators and media professionals from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam (CLMV) are currently attending the regional media training course on food safety reporting, which was launched today, August 28, and will run until September 1.
Organized under the Mekong Institute-Food Safety Project (MI-FSP), the course targets to strengthen the participants’ awareness and understanding of key food safety concepts, related global and local issues, and existing best practices in the region. Through the presentations and discussions, the training program hopes to provide journalists with new perspectives and ideas in handling food safety stories. Ultimately, the program seeks to raise media interest in covering food safety issues in the region.
Among the participants are correspondents from the Phnom Penh Post, Khmer Times, Vientiane Times, Myanmar International TV, Mizzima News, The New York Times, Hanoi Radio and Television, and Vietnam News Agency. Communication officers from relevant government agencies in the region are also in attendance. The course is delivered by Dr. John David Brooks, Fellow of the New Zealand Institute for Food Science and Technology, and Mr. Joel Adriano, Regional Coordinator for Asia Pacific Region of SciDev.Net.
Welcoming the participants, Dr. Watcharas Leelawath, MI Executive Director, stated the MI-FSP is an 18-month project, which is currently concentrating on building the region’s capacity. In the upcoming period, the project will expand its activities through encouraging more engagement from the private sector, as well as policy dialogues among a broad array of ministries who are involved in food safety management in CLMV. More importantly, the project will also promote collaborations between New Zealand and CLMV ministries to impart knowledge and experience related to food safety management in New Zealand, a leading safe food producer worldwide.
Subsequently, Dr. Leelawath emphasized the importance of food safety communication. He explained that food safety is sometimes misunderstood as a nontariff barrier between developed and developing countries. Therefore, it essential to highlight how promoting this discipline protects domestic consumers and creates opportunities for market expansion to neighboring countries.
Food safety promotion involves producers understanding about potential risks during food production and for consumers to be aware of how the food that they eat and serve will not cause them harm. Communicating food safety, therefore, has been recognized as one of the most important approaches to reduce foodborne illness and to contribute to improvements in food safety management throughout the food supply chain. With support from the New Zealand Aid Programme (NZAP), MI organizes the regional media training course in response to this need.