Rishad, top Washington scientist start Lanka’s first food compliance training program

Wednesday, 19 June 2013 01:22 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • ‘More Americans looking for Lankan spiced food’: Dr. Rasco
  • Country’s first ever int’l food training program starts in Colombo
  • Lanka’s 2012 food exports at $ 73 million
  • Urgent need of our food exporters fulfilled’: Rishad


For the first time in Sri Lanka’s export history, a renowned global food scientist began on 11 June to extensively train Lankan food exporters on much needed international regulatory compliance rules with processed food having grown to become a key component of Sri Lanka’s overall annual food exports.

“In 2012, 26% of total food and beverages exports were processed foods at $ 73.4 million. Our overall processed food exports which stood at $ 67.1 million in 2010 rose to a strong $ 95 million in 2011,” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen, on 11 June in Colombo.

Bathiudeen was addressing the launch event of fist International Food Safety and Compliance Training session by globally renowned Food Scientist Dr. Barbara Rasco, who is an Associate Professor of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition of the Washington State University on 11 June at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, for Sri Lanka’s food exporters.

The pioneering session was organised by the Sri Lanka Food Processors’ Association with the support of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and in partnership with the Spice Council and VEGA-FEG. The sessions continue from 11 to 21 June in Colombo.

Dr. Rasco, one of the few professionals in the world simultaneously practicing food law and food science as a food scientist, arrived in the island on 8 June. Dr. Rasco who has successfully collaborated on 200 published scientific papers on food science, will lead the training and training of trainers program on the Food Safety Modernisation Act of USA starting 11 June at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. She published the world’s first a book (with Dr. Bledsoe) on intentional food contamination, considered as a criminal practice in which companies were shown how to deal with food terrorism. She has worked with hundreds of firms including Starbucks, Coca Cola, Kraft US, Dole, Cargill Inc. and American Sea Foods.

“Dr. Rasco is a great contributor to global food science especially in the integration of the legal and technical aspects and trying to come up with practices for the global industry to make the overall value chain of food, much safer. These types of awareness sessions are an urgent need which is being fulfilled today; especially considering  that in 2012, 26% of total food and beverage exports were processed foods totalling to $ 73.4 million. Our processed food exports which stood at $ 67.1 million in 2010 strongly increased to $ 94.84 million in 2011. In 2012, it stood at $ 73.4 million. The slight decline is a result of the on-going, global market turmoil,” said Minister Bathiudeen. The Minister added: “My ministry has been extending considerable support to build Sri Lanka’s food processing sector. We allocated $ 197,000 to the Sri Lanka Food Processors’ Association for this initiative. The other key initiative is the annual Pro-Food Pro-Pack exhibition. I am pleased to say, that the 11th exhibition in this series will be held in August at BMICH.”  

“This is an export sector with strong potential and we need these types of initiatives to sustain our competitive edge” he stressed.

“I am happy to help Sri Lanka’s food industry to secure its exports competitiveness. I am also impressed with the level of sophistication of Sri Lanka’s food industry. You are very proactive,” said Dr. Rasco, who admitted her strong liking for Sri Lankan jaggery and hot curries. Dr. Rasco added: “Despite the difficulty in getting into new export markets and despite being expensive, your food operators and exporters are doing the right thing by following regulatory compliance.”

Dr. Rasco, who has extensive working background in 30 countries-mostly in Central, South and South East Asia added: “Americans are beginning to look for spicy food from Sri Lanka. I see new opportunities for Sri Lanka’s full bodied spicy food exports in US.”

“Reps from more than 20 leading firms-including Elephant House and Coca Cola will be taking part in this session which will continue till 21 June” said the Administrative Secretary of Sri Lanka Food Processors Association Ivan Peiris. “This is the first time that such an extensive programme of this nature is taking place in Sri Lanka” Peiris added.