The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (MAFF) Hon Semisi Fakahau told guests on Thursday that the national body would address food safety in Tonga and also at the international level.
The new body facilitates health safety trainings for staff and the public, endorses food standard policies as well as dealing with scientific activities such as food analysis processing, according to a statement from the ministry.
The chair of National Food Council Mele ‘Amanaki said Tonga’s food control system failed to protect the public health and safety of consumers.
“You may recall that last year, a full container of chicken not suitable for human consumption was released from the wharf to the local market and its contents were unable to be recalled,” Ms ‘Amanaki said.
“Just at the beginning of this year people from a camp at Liahona were seriously taken ill after eating food provided by the caterers. Despite the efforts, the source of this unfortunate situation was not identified.
‘Amanaki believed these were proofs of poor food controlling and fair trading systems.
“We also heard today that food related diseases such as Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and food-borne diseases such as typhoid are the largest contributors to the ill health and mortality in Tonga,” she said.
‘Amanaki said the launch of the National Food Authority was timely and the National Food Council was ready “to seriously take immediate actions to set up an integrated National Food Control System to ensure the safety of consumers and to promote fair trade in Tonga and also overseas.”
The inauguration was attended by the Australian and New Zealand High Commissioners, the Ambassadors of China and Japan, representatives from FAO and WHO, Districts and Town Officers, Representatives of Consumers and stakeholders of the local food industry.