Jamaica securing food safety standards

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica’s newly appointed head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries’ Agro-Investment Corporation, Dr. David Lowe, says that a number of initiatives have been taken by Jamaica to ensure food safety standards, to facilitate global trade in Jamaican food.

Dr. Lowe said that among these initiatives was the establishment of the Jamaica Import/Export Inspection Centre, which was opened in June to bring together, under one roof, seven regulatory agencies responsible for food safety.

He said that the National Quality Policy for Jamaica speaks to the establishment of a single food safety agency, charged with the responsibility for satisfying human, animal and plant health, through the production of safe foods for both domestic and international trade.

“Such an agency ensures Jamaica’s compliance with international trade agreements and standards,” he explained.

Dr Lowe was speaking at the Fourth International Food Safety Conference, at the Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston, on Friday (July 31).

He said that other initiatives included the formation of the National Agricultural Health and Food Safety Coordinating Committee, to harmonize inter-agency efforts. A Food Safety Policy is being drafted for submission to Cabinet, and an Animal Heath policy is also being prepared.

Dr Lowe pointed out that food safety was a multi-stakeholder effort, hence the approach that the Ministry had taken.

“Food safety is the shared responsibility of the national government, food industry and consumers” he said.

The Food Safety Conference, which was held July 30-31, attracted more than 100 persons from the local and international food industries and related areas. They discussed topics such as food safety concerns for the region; the Norwalk virus: mitigation and control in hospitality settings; food allergens and labeling; outbreak control in hotels; and training.

Managing Director of the Food Hygiene Bureau, which oganised the event, Marva Hewitt-Heaven, said that the Bureau was Jamaica’s number one food safety education and technology organization, and is designed to protect consumer health through specialised training, education and technical solutions.

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