By THE NATION
Wittawat Sarasalin, deputy secretary-general of the National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards (ACFS), on Wednesday said that the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is attempting to improve the quality of food and agricultural products in both domestic and international market. The effort is to bring them in line with the food safety standards required by customers around the world who are paying increased attention to “health-friendly” products.
Working toward accredited agricultural and food product standards, examinations and certification under international practices, ACFS recently organised a campaign to raise the public awareness through a “Q” symbol. The aim is to create a positive image for and acceptance of the “Q” brand among entrepreneurs and customers.
“The “Q” is intended as a food safety mark certified by ACFS to assure customers they can trust that the product is safe and clean under the agriculture product standard act BE 2551, that ensures that the source of origin, food components and processing method meet the safety standard,” Wittawat said.
“We want to ensure customers have a good choice for selecting clean and safe food, which can eliminate food poisoning, as well as provide a good incentive for farmers and entrepreneurs to produce clean food that is also free from chemical contamination.”
ACFS has worked with modern trade companies such as TOP, Big C, The Mall, Macro and other fresh markets to garner their support for products bearing the “Q” logo, and ensure a significant channel for customers to choose and buy products meeting the safety standard.
Currently, two kinds of accredited agricultural product standards – products meeting the compulsory standard and those meeting a non-compulsory standard. Farmers, entrepreneurs, importers and exporters must meet the standard to earn the legitimacy that comes with certification.
The compulsory standard has covered six criteria related to smoked fresh fruit with sulphur dioxide, the acceptable amount of Alpha toxin in peanuts, good practice for producing frozen durian, good practice for collecting raw milk, and good practice in white shrimp farming to ensure no disease.
Under the agriculture product standard act BE 2551, 322 announcements have been declared, including 177 cases of product standards, 158 cases of manufacturing standards and 47 cases of data standards, among others.
Wittawat said that any entrepreneur carrying the “Q” mark branding must ensure that their guard is not lowered and that the product quality is maintained. Officials will make random checks, he said. If the firm fails to follow the safety standard, the right to use the “Q” mark will be revoked. Meanwhile, customers should select products with the “Q” logo, which will be easily seen on packaging along with details that include the name of the entrepreneur who checks the standard, the code of the certified agriculture product standard as well as the code and name of the person involved in the certification.
Customers will be able to check the source of Q-certified agricultural products. In the event of a problem, they have the right to access information about the product and public announcements will be made when faulty products are removed from the shelf. A person convicted of falsifying the mark faces three years in prison, or a Bt300,000 fine, or both.