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Cablegate: Import Safety in Thailand

VZCZCXYZ0002
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHBK #4536 2342348
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 222348Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY BANGKOK
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 9095

UNCLAS BANGKOK 004536

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EEB/TPP/ABT PAUL SAXTON

E.O. 12958:N/A
TAGS: ECON EAGR ETRD TBIO TH

SUBJECT: IMPORT SAFETY IN THAILAND

REFTEL: STATE 114788

1. In response to reftel, Agriculture Attache and Econoff discussed
product safety with contacts at the National Bureau of Agricultural
Commodity and Food Standards in the Ministry of Agriculture, the
Food and Drug Administration, and the Customs Department. Import
and export safety in Thailand focuses primarily on food and
pharmaceutical products and significantly less so on other consumer
products.

Food safety
-----------

2. In recent years, Thailand has worked to strengthen food safety
controls and management systems by implementing and enforcing risk
analysis in national food safety control systems throughout the
entire food chain (from farm to table). Since 2004, the National
Food Safety Program (NFSP) has been the primary mechanism for food
safety, comprised of inspection and certification by authorities
from various agencies. The Royal Thai Government (RTG) has worked
closely with international agencies such as the World Health
Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization, and food
industries (Processed Foods Export Association, Thai Broiler
Association) in development of the NFSP. Typically, the RTG works
closely with regulatory authorities in its export markets to develop
the necessary food safety requirements.

3. Under the NFSP, Thailand has developed a food control system
including basic traceability to ensure the safety of imported and
exported food and agricultural products. Exported products must
meet requirements under domestic certification systems, such as GAP
(Good Agricultural Practices), GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices),
and HACCP (Hazard Critical Control Point). At the farm level, these
systems are controlled by the Ministry of Agriculture and
Cooperatives (Department of Agriculture, Department of Fisheries and
Department of Livestock Development). For slaughter-house control,
the organization directly responsible is the Department of Livestock
Development, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. The Ministry
of Interior plays a cooperative role with the Ministry of
Agriculture and Cooperatives to oversee such functions as building
design for processing facilities.

4. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Provincial Public
Health Offices of the Ministry of Public Health, with the support of
the food analytical services of the Department of Medical Sciences,
and of accredited laboratories, are responsible for the safety of
food ingredients used in processed foods and residue levels.

5. The Department of Health works cooperatively with the Bangkok
Metropolitan Administration (BMA) at the food distribution level
(fresh markets, supermarkets, street food vendors and restaurants)
to control food quality, food hygiene and food safety distributed
throughout the country.
6. At the port level, staff from all relevant agencies are present
to inspect imported products. Imported product which does not meet
domestic standards or requirements is not permitted to enter the
country.

7. Recently, the Department of Medical Sciences and the FDA
conducted tests on 11,500 food items. A number of Chinese fruit and
vegetable products were blacklisted after discovery of high levels
of pesticide residues. However, RTG officials maintain they are not
imposing additional verification and surveillance systems but have
increased sampling rates.

Pharmaceuticals
---------------

8. The RTG requires licensing of companies to produce, sell or
import any pharmaceutical into Thailand, and the registration of
individual products. Licensing is under the authority of the Drug
Control Division of the Ministry of Public Health in the Bangkok
metropolitan area and Provincial Health Offices outside the
metropolitan area.

9. Following the registration of pharmaceuticals, the RTG's quality
control system focuses on output, i.e. the last stage of the
production process, rather than input/raw materials or in the actual
production process itself. In the post-marketing phase,
pharmaceutical quality monitoring is conducted by regular inspection
and pharmaceutical sampling through the National Adverse Drug
Reactions Monitoring Center and its nineteen regional offices.

10. In December 2006, the FDA requested the cooperation of major
importers of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) to report and
register the country of origin of all imported API via E-submission.
Importers are now required to submit a "Certificate of Analysis" of
the active ingredients to the FDA. The FDA then issues unique
15-digit numbers to importers to be included on all import
shipments.
BOYCE

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