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A vendor (centre) assists a customer purchasing ground provisions during a farmers’ market in Kingston.
Photo: Adrian Walker

Food industry business stakeholders who implement the new ISO 22000:2018 Food Safety Management System (FSMS) Certification Standard in their operations stand to reap significant dividends over the long term.

The Standard, which was launched recently by Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw, is the latest product/service offering of the National Certification Body of Jamaica (NCBJ).

It outlines food-safety requirements for all interests along the food production and distribution chain, including farmers/producers, processors/manufacturers, and retailers.

A customer (right) purchasing agricultural produce during a recent farmers’ market in Kingston.

 

A housewife (left) negotiating prices for agricultural produce being purchased from a vendor.

 

Customers purchase ground provisions during a recent farmers’ market in Kingston

 

Speaking during the virtual launch, NCBJ Manager, Navenia Wellington Ford, said stakeholders implementing the FSMS “[will] definitely see an increase in efficiency, a definite increase in [product] quality and, of course, a reduction in costs”.

Additionally, she said certified entities will have the benefit of international market access, pointing out that the Standard is globally recognised.

“So, it will give food business operators a foothold in the global market space and help them attain global recognition through proven business credentials and increased customer satisfaction,” she noted.

Mrs. Wellington Ford said the FSMS will also help operators to reduce breaches that can cause food-borne illnesses commonly resulting from microbiological/biological, chemical, and physical contamination.

She said the Standard can also help in safeguarding individuals from exposure to allergens in foods, while pointing out that its incorporation would be tantamount to stakeholders’ compliance with statutory/legal operational guidelines.

Mrs. Wellington Ford said the FSMS specifies the requirements, which are a combination of key elements deemed fundamental to achieving the projected outcomes and ensuring that the Standard is applicable to any business engagement along the food production and distribution chain.

Among these, she informed, are interactive communication; sound system management, evidence-based decision-making, hazard analysis critical control point (HACCP) principles, system management, customer engagement, and process approach.

Mrs. Wellington Ford pointed out that as a tool for risk management, and operational planning and control, the Standard is designed to position stakeholders to improve on their processes, competencies, and infrastructure.

The FSMS certification/accreditation, she informed, is a two-stage process.

“Once you have an interest, and have expressed [same], we will ascertain and classify the type of business you operate, go through the application and contracting process, and then the auditing stage,” she outlined.

Mrs. Wellington Ford indicated that the stage-one audit entails a review of the extent of entities’ operations vis-à-vis the FSMS’s requirements and highlight any non-conformities that need to be rectified.

The stage-two audit aims to ensure that all non-conformities, where these may exist, and supporting mechanisms are consistent with the ISO 22000: 2018 requirements.

These are followed by an evaluation exercise and, thereafter, certification and approval, once all criteria have been met.

Mrs. Wellington Ford said once entities fulfil the requirements, they are granted a Certificate of Conformity, “to prove that you have been evaluated by a third-party certification body and that this [certificate] is evidence of your approval”.

The NCBJ Manager emphasised that while it is acknowledged that food-safety hazards can occur at any point of the food chain, it is imperative that steps be taken to minimise or prevent this.

“What you do to control this possibility… is paramount to you having a successful food business operation,” she added.

Mrs. Wellington Ford said the FSMS implementation and maintenance guarantees a correlation between increased efficiency and product quality, and cost reduction.

She is encouraging food industry stakeholders to give consideration to certifying their operations to the ISO 22000: 2018 Standard.

“If this is something that you want for your organisation, then the National Certification Body of Jamaica is here and ready to serve you,” Mrs. Wellington Ford said.

For more information on the ISO 22000: 2018 Food Safety Management System Standard, persons can log on to www.ncbj.org.jm, or email info@ncbj.org.jm.

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