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Protecting vegetable exports

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Insects found in Thai fruit exports to Europe may lead to a ban. Vigilance and self-policing will be necessary to avoid this outcome. 

fruit stand

Food safety inspectors in Europe have found insects (pests) in Thai vegetables being imported into Europe.

A European ban on Thai vegetable imports is a real possibility if the problem is not dealt with promptly.

Even though only 10 out of 50 of Thai exporters have a pest problem, the ban could affect the whole industry.

Some the vegetables that might be banned are essential ingredients of Thai cuisine which has become popular all over the world (See Wikipedia on Thai food ingredients).

Thailand has faced similar food safety incidents in the past. In 2005 Thailand lost 40% of its fruit market share in European supermarkets to Vietnamese exports because EU customs inspectors found bacterial contamination in Thai fruit imports (Read article).

Despite this occurence, Thailand is normally at the forefront of food safety (Read previous articles on food safety from the archives: #1 (24-12-08), #2 (21-11-08) #3 (15-07-08) #4 (31-12-09) #5 (03-07-09)  #6 (16--06-08)).

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VEGETABLE EXPORTS: Bid to thwart possible EU ban by Chatrudee Theparat and Phusadee Arunmas


The government will immediately conduct quality inspections on all shipments of 16 vegetables that face a possible ban from the European Union to ensure there will be no exports of insect-contaminated fresh produce.

A vendor in Bangkok’s Klong Toey market sells chilies on Tuesday. The commodity falls under one of five vegetable categories subject to immediate government inspection to guard against pest infestation in the face of a threatened ban by the EU.

Kiat Sittheeamorn, president of the Thailand Trade Representative, proposed the measure yesterday to David Lipman, the EU Ambassador to Thailand.

The Thai government also proposed the EU send its officials to work with Thai agencies on quality control procedures. Thailand has inspected 50% of its exported produce since September, more stringent than the normal 10% sampling.

The EU Commission is scheduled to consider Thailand's proposal at the end of this month.

The 16 vegetables fall into five categories, including varieties of basil, chilies and capsicum peppers, eggplants, bitter gourds and parsley. The exports of these products to the EU have grown rapidly in recent years due to the rising popularity of Thai food.

Thailand said it would suspend exports of the 16 vegetables as of Feb 1 as a pre-emptive move to avoid a formal EU ban, which would take longer to lift.

EU food safety authorities said inspectors had found whiteflies, thrips and leaf miners on some of the vegetables and that a ban would be applied if nothing was done by Jan 15, when food safety authorities will meet in Brussels.

Thailand does not want its vegetable exports to become an obstacle to its total exports worth 18 billion to the EU, or to the negotiations of a Thailand-EU free trade agreement, which awaits cabinet approval.

Mr Lipman said the EU welcomed the chance to work with the Thai government.

The EU has not yet banned these vegetables, but we need them to arrive without pests," he said.

Chusak Chuenprayoth, vice-chairman of the Food and Agriculture Committee of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber issued a letter to express its disagreement with a sudden temporary ban of vegetable exports to the EU that would start on Feb 1.

He urged the government to guarantee exporters with no record of breaching food safety requirements they could export as usual. There are 70-80 vegetable exporters to the EU, with 50 exporting the five categories concerned. Around 10 of them have a pest problem.

The chamber also requested the government solve the problem of export smuggling and improve the quality control process at the airport as well as trace-back procedures from destinations to farms for officials of the Agriculture Department.

(Source: Bangkok Post, business section, VEGETABLE EXPORTS, Bid to thwart possible EU ban, 13/01/2011, Chatrudee Theparat and Phusadee Arunmas, link

pests - insects which can damage food crops สัตว์ที่ทำลาย (See Wikipedia on pests, pest control, invasive species and Integrated Pest Management)
infestation - insect infestation, when large numbers of insects come and cause damage to crops
halt - stop
vigilance - watching a situation or activity very carefully to prevent problems and dangerous situations 
police (verb) - to check whether organizations perform correctly
self-policing - when organizations (or here a country Thailand) continually check themselves, to make sure they perform correctly
outcome - the final result of some process or activity  ผล, ผลลัพธ์, สิ่งที่ปรากฏออกมาภายหลัง

ban - an official statement ordering people not to do, sell or use something การห้าม, การประกาศห้าม, ห้ามอย่างเป็นทางการ
deal with problem - take steps to solve problem
promptly - quickly, without delay
essential - important and must have
ingredients - one of the things used to make food (a meal, a dish) such as meat, vegetables, herbs and spices ส่วนผสม, ส่วนประกอบ, เครื่องปรุง
cuisine - a style of cooking used in a region or country (examples: Northern Thai cuisine, French cuisine) ประเภทอาหาร, ฝีมือการทำอาหาร

incident - a bad event that happens (event is dangerous, criminal or violent)
at the forefront of Y - the leader and among the most important doing activity Y

bid - an attempt to do something ความพยายาม
thwart - to prevent someone from doing something that they want to do สกัดกั้น ป้องกัน
ban - See above
immediately - happening right after something else with no delay; right away ทันที
conduct - to do something in an organised way; to carry out
ensure - to make certain that something happens or is done รับรอง ให้ความมั่นใจ
contaminated - made dirty, polluted or poisonous by the addition of a chemical, waste or infection
produce - fruits, vegetables and other things that farmers grow

vendor - a seller of goods, a person who sells something พ่อค้า, แม่ค้า
inspection - an official process of checking that things are in the correct condition or that people are doing what they should การตรวจสอบตรวจตรา
inspection - the act of looking closely at something or someone and to check that everything is as it should be; examination การตรวจสอบอย่างละเอียด
threatened - telling someone that if they don't do it, they will be punished
pests - See above
infestation - See above
proposed - suggested (but not yet chosen or decided upon)
measure - an action taken to solve a particular problem มาตรการ

quality control - systems to esnsure that products produced meet the quality requirements of both customers and the government (See Wikipedia)
procedure -
the correct way to do something, a correct series of steps, a process ขบวนการ
stringent - strict, very exact and controlling
sample -
to take a small number of things from a large group in order test if things in the group are acceptable, test a small selection to make some judgement about the larger group เอาเป็นตัวอย่าง
EU Commission - "the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union. The Commission operates as a cabinet government, with 27 Commissioners. There is one Commissioner per member state, though Commissioners are bound to represent the interests of the EU as a whole rather than their home state" (See Wikipedia)
scheduled - planned to happen at a particular time or day ตามตารางเวลา
proposal - a plan or suggestion for a group to consider ข้อเสนอ

basil - a herb used ingredient in Thai red curry (แกงเผ็ด) (See Wikipedia on Basil and Thai Basil) กะเพรา
chili
- a chili pepper, a vegetable added to food to give the food a "hot" and "spicy" taste  (See Wikipedia)
capsicum peppers -
the formal name for many different kinds of "chili peppers" (See Wikipedia)
eggplant - a vegetable used around the world for cooking dishes with a very rich taste (See Wikipedia on Eggplant and photos of food made from eggplant)
rich taste - the taste of food that contains things such as butter, eggs and cream that make your stomach feel full (examples: a rich chocolate dessert, a rich fruit cake)

bitter gourd - the most bitter of fruits commonly used in Asian food, also known as "bitter melon" (See Wikipedia)
parsley -
a vegetable commonly used as decoration or garnish in western (European, American, Australian) cooking (See Wikipedia)
garnish - some item such as a vegetable that is placed on cooked food as decoration (See Wikipedia)

suspend - to stop something for a short time หยุดชั่วคราว, ยกเลิกชั่วคราว, ระงับชั่วคราว
pre-emptive - an action taken to prevent some other action from happening, an action taken to prevent an attack ชิงโจมตีก่อน, ชิงลงมือก่อน
lift - to end a warning, a restriction, etc. ยกเลิก
authorities - officials or organisation in charge, government เจ้าหน้าที่ ผู้มีอำนาจของรัฐ เจ้าหน้าที่ของรัฐ

whiteflies, thrips, leaf miners - the names of three pests that can cause damage to Thai crops (See Wikipedia on WhiteflyThrips and Leaf miner and  webpage describing common pests and  read paper on identifying these pests for imnproved market access)

food safety - a scientific discipline that studies the handling, preparation and storage of food to prevent food from carrying illnesses (See Wikipedia) ความปลอดภัยในเรื่องการอาหารนับแต่กระบวนการการผลิต ขนส่ง การจัดเก็บและจัดจำหน่าย

obstacle - a difficulty or problem that prevents you from achieving something อุปสรรค ขวากหนาม
negotiations - formal discussions between two groups to reach an agreement, when two or more sides talk about their problems (a dialogue): to resolve disputes, to produce an agreement upon courses of action, to bargain for individual or collective advantage, or to craft outcomes to satisfy various interests (See Wikipedia) การเจรจาต่อรอง]
trade - the buying and selling of goods การค้าขาย

Free Trade Agreement (FTA) - 
an agreement between a  group of countries to eliminate many tariffs, quotas and preferences on goods passing between them (See Wikipedia)
approval - official permission to do something การอนุมัต
chance - opportunity
banned - officially not allowed to do something ห้ามอย่างเป็นทางการ ถูกตัดสิทธิ ถูกห้าม

chamber - one of the sections of a parliament ห้อง ห้องประชุม
issued - made available ออกใหม่
express its disagreement - say that they don't agree
temporary - for a limited short time; not permanent ชั่วคราว

urged - advised someone very strongly about what action should be taken วิงวอน
guarantee - a promise that something will be done or will happen คำรับรอง, การประกัน (See glossary)
with no record of Y - have never done Y
breaching - not following a rule, breaking a rule 
categories - groups of things or people that are similar, have same attributes and features, also known as: types, kinds, classes หมวด, หมู่, หมวดหมู่, ประเภท
concerned -
involved in the situation or issue

smuggling - secretly and illegally taking goods or people into or out of a country ลักลอบขนสินค้าหรือคนเข้าและออกจากประเทศอย่างผิดกฎหมาย
improve - to make better ทำให้ดีขึ้น
process - a series of actions that you take in order to achieve a result แนวทางปฏิบัติ, กระบวน, วิธีการ
trace - to discover the cause or origin of something by examining the way in which it has developed สืบหาร่องรอย, to follow the evidence to find out something ตามรอย ตามทาง
trace-back - following the path that something has followed from the time of its creation to where it is now (for example, to find the exact point when vegetables were contaminated)

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