Matra South food safety training

The Matra-South training programme (MSTP) is an instrument to enforce the bilateral relations of the Netherlands with the eligible countries (Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia) at government level. The objective is to train senior public officials on matters relevant to furthering a sustainable transition in the Arabic region. An important aim is to create networks by bringing the participants together in the Netherlands. The programme further aims to increase the bilateral relations of the Dutch line ministries and their colleagues in the respective countries.

Food safety is a fundamental part of the EU policy on consumer protection and health, agriculture and trade. The EU integrated approach to food safety aims to assure a high level of food safety, animal health, animal welfare and plant health within the European Union through coherent farm-to-table measures and adequate monitoring, while ensuring the effective functioning of the internal market.

Highest level of protection

Improving the safety of imports and adapting EU controls to take into account the radical change in trading conditions over the past decades are key objectives of the food safety strategy. The aim is to have the highest possible level of protection against the different threats that certain imports can pose to human and animal health. The EU does not intend to impose a rigid new border control system or create unnecessary burdens for EU importers and trading partners. Instead, controls will be focused on the high risk imports, and communication with trading partners will be strengthened to allow earlier and more accurate warnings on risky products of non-EU origin. At the same time, there will be renewed efforts to help third countries to combat threats to food safety and animal health at the source, which should help to improve the safety of the final products sent to Europe.

General Food Law

The main aim of the Matra South Training Programme course on Food Safety is to stimulate a critical reflection and dialogue on the objectives and preconditions for a well-functioning food safety system vis-à-vis the arrangements, attitudes and approaches applied within the context of the selected countries. For participants the challenge will be to identify possibilities for enhancing the compatibility of their national food safety systems with the EU acquis thereby increasing the opportunities for expanding trade relations in the agri-food sector. The course will therefore not focus so much on technical skills and knowledge, but will primarily concentrate on interpreting and understanding the aims and objectives of the General Food Law and other important pieces of EU legislation, the institutional options for translating the European food safety regulations and directives into practice, the roles, responsibilities and attitudes of various public and private stakeholders involved in food safety, and the mechanisms of planning, cooperation and communication within the EU-context.

Food safety system

In order to achieve the general objectives and to allow for sufficient flexibility to meet the individual participant’s needs and interests the two-week course is sub-divided into different components. Each course component contains a combination of theory, practice and study visits in forms of presentations, excursions, discussions, group work and individual assignments and visits of different institutes which will enable the course participants to tailor the programme within the context of the overall objectives towards their own areas of needs and interest. The participants will work towards an action plan that addresses a critical issue in the food safety system at home. New skills, insights and approaches gained during the course will be integrated in this action plan.

The two-week course will be divided into two modules. The first module will be given in the Netherlands allowing sufficient time for participants to familiarize themselves with the key stakeholders in the Dutch food safety systems, their roles, tasks, method of operations and their challenges. The second module will be given in Cairo, and the main objectives will be to reflect on the action plans participants developed during the first module, to get exposure to the food safety system of Egypt and identify its challenges.