Thailand tightens up rules for agricultural practices


Standard of practices on farm and at operator’s facilities of several varieties of agricultural produce as well as farm and fisheries products in Thailand are becoming mandatory. With growing concern by the public on food safety and environmental deterioration Thai Government will enforce Good Agricultural Practices Standards for selected commodities based on potential risks.

Currently the National Bureau of Agricultural Commodities and Food Standards (ACFS) has prepared for the enforcement of the first mandatory standard on sulfurdioxides fumigation which are common practices to prolong shelf-life of several fresh tropical fruits such as longan and litchi. The standard is due to be published in November 2015 in the Rajakitchanubeksa, the official journal for laws and official decisions made by Thai Government. The standard will then be enforced six months after the publishing, meaning that in May next year all fumigating operators will have to observe that their facilities comply with the requirements and are able to prevent the residue of sulfurdioxides remaining on the fruits exceeding the maximum limits for that particular type of fruit. The limit varies according to countries. For example China permit the limit of sulfurdioxides at 50 ppm on the longan skin. Information prepared at the 51st meeting session of JECFA, a scientific expert group of Codex Alimentarius Committee in 1998 specified that “Sulfur dioxide gas is intensely irritating to the eyes, throat, and upper respiratory system. Liquid sulfur dioxide may cause skin burns, which result from the freezing effect of the liquid on tissue”. Therefore an intake or a contact of high amount of such compound may cause skin irritation, nausea, dizzy, fatique, faint, allergy to respiratory system and may cause death to asthma sufferer. This level is in line with international standards.

Fumigation service providers have been advised to contact the Department of Agriculture near their location to obtain certification of their facilities because when the enforcement takes effect only the certified operators will be allowed to operate fumigation for fresh fruits to ensure that the exceed residual of the compound is unlikely. Also they will have to register and get permission or license for their operation. ACFS will also facilitate the capacity building for operators.

“Since Thailand is a leading producer of tropical fruits and has played important role in international trade, I believes that the introduction and the adoption of this standard as well as other mandatory standards in agricultural practices will assure the increasing competitiveness of the country. I believe also that these stricter rules will benefit the Thai people on the supply of better food for better health and lifestyle condition. Moreover it will promote the greater confidence from consumer worldwide” the Secretary General of ACFS, Ms Doojduan Sasanawin said.

“While ACFS will administer the registration of the fumigators, in the initial stage the Department of Agriculture will be sole responsible for the certification of the fumigation operators. And when there is an authorised third party i.e. independent bodies, non-governmental organizations etc, they will also provide the certification services”, Ms Doojduan added.

Other mandatory practices will follow from next year onwards. The mandatory standards expected to be published in 2016 are for instance aflatoxin level in peanut, Good Aquaculture Practices for disease-free nuaplius farm of vannamei shrimp, and Good Practices for Raw Milk Collection Centre. The concern leading to mandatory of these practices are entirely on the issue of sanitary and phytosanitary affecting either human or animal health. However the environment is also the increasing concern that will be taken into consideration for the future standards.