In Thailand, the Food Act of B.E.2522 (1979) is the major law aimed at protecting and preventing consumers from health hazards occurring from food consumption. According to the Food Act, the Ministry of Public Health is designated to be in charge of the execution of this act. The act also empowered the Ministry of Public Health to promulgate ministerial regulations, to appoint the Food Committee and competent officers, and to set up other activities in order to carry out the provisions of the Act.
The ministerial regulations describe the procedures for applications for manufacturing licenses, importation licenses, and registration including the rates of fees, the identification card of the competent officers and the labeling of food products for exports.
The Food Committee functions as an advisory board to the Minister or the competent officers on the matters related food control administration. There are 23 members on the committee: 12 of them being ex officio members appointed from relevant government agencies, the other nine being food experts (no more than four of whom being representatives of the food industry) and appointed every two years.
The Food Act classified foods into three main categories as follows:
(1) Specially Controlled Foods – Registrations are required for foods in this category. Legal provisions are related to food standard quality, specifications, packaging, and labeling requirements, as well as other aspects of good manufacturing practices. The Food Committee may make recommendations to the Minister of Public Health specifying specially controlled foods.
(2) Standardized Foods – Standard foods do not require registration but their quality and labeling have to meet the standard requirements as specified in the Notification of the Ministry of Public Health.
(3) Other Foods – Foods, raw or cooked, preserved or non-preserved, processed or non-processed, if not listed under category 1 or 2 (see the list in the annex) will be considered as general foods. Although registrations are not required, general food products are controlled and monitored with regard to hygiene, safety, labeling and advertisement. Foods in this category may be subdivided into (a) foods that must bear standard labels and (b) other general foods.
The control measures for each category of foods differ; specially controlled foods are strictly controlled. Before producing or importing such foods, the application for product registration is required. For standard foods, the application for such permission is not required, but they must be produced up to the prescribed quality or standard. For labeled foods, however, the main objective is to control the labeling in order to do away with misleading or cheating of consumers; thus, there will be fewer problems of quality standard, compared with foods in other categories.
For food control efforts in Thailand, assigned personnel of the Food Control Division, the Food and Drug Ports Division and Provincial Public Health Offices are the competent officers who function under the Food Act.