Success of food trade at the international level depends greatly on the structure and degree of food quality control at the national level While the onus is on the food industry to produce safe and high-quality products, the government has a responsibility to provide a national food control system with a supporting infrastructure, to assume an advisory and regulatory role and, when necessary, to enforce food laws.
The government's food control agencies need to assure consumers that they have set and will enforce standards for the quality and safety of foods. These agencies need to work with food producers in a cooperative and collaborative manner to ensure the quality and safety of exports through appropriate inspection, testing and certification methods.
In addition to ensuring that food is produced in a controlled environment it should also demonstrate that the control measures implemented are effective. Trading partners often request assurance that the industry has implemented appropriate control measures to provide a guarantee of the quality and safety of the food.
To provide this regulatory assurance the national food control systems should be based on a statutory framework supported by administrative offices, inspectors and analysts with adequate laboratories and other facilities needed for effective administration of the laws and regulations.
Control measures should be in place to control food safety problems related to pesticide residues, heavy metals, industrial chemicals, radionuclides, mycotoxins and new challenges as they arise.
In essence the national food control system supports trade by playing a dual role, providing adequate support to the food producer or exporter and assuring the consumer of the quality and safety of imported food products.