World Trade Organization Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards (WTO-SPS) Professional Development Program
Under the WTO-SPS agreements’ Article 9, the U.S. is obligated to facilitate the provision of technical assistance to other Members, especially developing country Members. This assistance will allow other countries to adjust to, and comply with, sanitary and phytosanitary measures necessary to achieve the appropriate level of food and facility safety in their export markets.
The U.S. SPS team includes the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Others agencies may be involved as needed.
In partnership with the team, JIFSAN has a leadership role in developing and managing the delivery of this program. Interagency coordination and initiation of industry participation is led by the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) and a team of experts provides the technical training. The combination of seeing, talking, and hearing from experts and practitioners deepens the understanding of what the U.S. is doing to meet its obligations under the WTO-SPS Agreement to help ensure the safety of food products internationally.
The first offering was an eight-week program, presented in the U.S., to 15 visiting food safety officials. Although each offering of the program is unique, all have similar components tailored to address the needs of the participants. Each program consists of classes on a variety of topics including American government, agriculture, food regulations, disease, biotechnology, and other SPS issues. Attendees spend at least one day learning about the basics of risk in a JIFSAN Risk Analysis course.
In addition to classroom sessions at the University of Maryland JIFSAN training center, participants can be afforded opportunities to travel to other parts of the U.S. to observe practices in different types of food production and manufacturing operations. For example, in past programs the trainees traveled to mid-western and western states to have exposure to operations for meats, grains and horticultural crops.
Throughout the training program, experts from government, academia and industry emphasize that food safety measures must be focused on sound science, risk analysis and health. Further emphasis is given to the fact that the rulemaking process should be transparent, consistent, and open to input from the private sector and from other countries.
Initial course offerings have been directed to China. These included support from several commodity groups with funding associated with USDA programs. In 2004 the program partnered with the U.S. Soybean Association, in 2006 with the U.S. Wheat Associates, and in 2007 with the U.S. Meat Export Federation.
JIFSAN is positioned to offer the training program to representatives from other countries as the need arises. The Typical Program Content is an example of our most comprehensive offering. However other programs have been more limited and any can be adjusted to suit participants’ specific needs and travel schedules.