Senior Veterinary Specialist, Veterinary Services Division, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Dr. Suzanne McLennon-Miguel, says continuous collaboration between ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) is crucial in the development of effective food-safety control systems locally.
Speaking with JIS News, she said that the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have established strategic food-safety plans that they have shared with other countries as these states work to develop their own food-safety controls.
“These systems have certain components, one of which is a risk-based approach that looks at developing risk-based inspections along the food chain. It will mean that everywhere that food is being grown and animals are reared, including transportation, processing, retail and eventually getting to the table of consumers, all these have to be reviewed,” she outlined.
She noted that the strategies developed will focus on how to help all the players along the food chain, hence, a collaborative approach is needed.
“It means that there has to be a holistic approach. Initially, all government entities worked on their own mandates, but now the new approach is that we all have to join hands; we have to take national ownership. Everyone has a role to play across the different MDAs. So we have to work together to come up with plans and strategies so we are able to communicate and collaborate to create joint inspections,” Dr. McLennon-Miguel said.
She noted that the Government agencies are already working together to reduce the hazards associated with food-borne diseases.
“This is happening right now at the ports. Once you import products into the country, Jamaica Customs Agency is alerted to the products. They call both the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Ministry of Health and Wellness and we do a joint inspection. That approach will ensure that your food is safe in a collaborative manner,” she pointed out.