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Local food manufacturers can look forward to increased opportunities in gaining access to overseas markets.
This will be made possible through the recent application made by the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC) to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Accredited Third-Party Certification Programme.
This is a voluntary programme in which the FDA recognises accreditation bodies that have the responsibility of accrediting third-party certification groups.
The application follows JANAAC’s December 2021 audit by the FDA, which, upon completion, will make JANAAC a recognised FDA Third Party Accreditation Body.
Chief Executive Officer, JANAAC, Sharonmae Shirley, tells JIS News that this application will authorise the agency to accredit certification bodies that conduct food-safety audits and issue certifications of foreign food facilities.
“We have embarked on a programme to become an FDA accredited third-party certification programme provider. This is exciting for us, and it is exciting news for manufacturers. The word from the FDA is imminent in terms of our acceptance in this programme,” she informs.
Mrs. Shirley says, to date, there are only four accreditation bodies globally that have this recognition, noting that the benefits of certification for the local food manufacturing industry are numerous.
“JANAAC will be the fifth, and we are so excited because the possibilities are endless in terms of how this can impact and benefit the local manufacturing industry, especially those who manufacture products with a short shelf life or unique products that, perhaps, are unknown to [consumers] in the United States, our nearest market and perhaps our largest market,” she highlights.
Under the Accredited Third-Party Certification Programme, accreditation bodies must perform assessments of third-party certification groups to determine their suitability for accreditation.
Other requirements stipulate that these bodies monitor the performance of the certification bodies it accredits, as well as it must notify the FDA of any change in, or withdrawal of, accreditations it has granted.
These entities must also conduct assessments and correct any problems found within the accreditation body’s own performance.
The Accreditation body must submit monitoring and self-assessment reports, maintain and provide access to records and other notifications to the FDA as part of the programme requirements.
Also, manufacturers may utilise the accredited certification bodies to conduct an annual audit on the FDA’s behalf.
To qualify as “local FDA auditors”, these certification bodies would have to be accredited by an FDA-recognised accreditation body as a prerequisite for exporters’ participation in the Voluntary Qualified Importer Programme (VQIP), an expedited entry programme.
Agri-food products that are considered high risk by the FDA can be approved for exportation through this compliance programme, whereby the FDA may request certification as a prerequisite for admissibility of certain food items.
“This programme will allow for our manufacturers to participate in the VQIP where an importer in the [United States] can identify an entity in Jamaica and, together, they can participate in this programme where the products coming out of the local manufacturing industry can be accepted without the detailed inspection that is normally required by the FDA,” Mrs. Shirley tells JIS News.
These food items would have already been certified in Jamaica by an entity that is accredited by JANAAC, she adds.
JANAAC is an agency of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce. Its mandate is to accredit public- and private-sector laboratories, inspection bodies and certification bodies as well as to provide to them and their users an independent attestation of their competence and confirm their conformance with international