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

Public- and private-sector stakeholders have endorsed the new ISO 22000:2018 Food Safety Management System (FSMS) that was recently unveiled by the National Certification Body of Jamaica (NCBJ).

The Standard, which was launched by Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw, is the NCBJ’s latest product/service offering.

It outlines food-safety requirements for all interests along the food production and distribution chain and maps out what individuals and organisations need to do in order to demonstrate their ability to control existing and potential hazards.

These include farmers/producers, processors/manufacturers, distributors and retailers.

Chief Technical Director in the Ministry, Michelle Parkins, who spoke during the recent virtual launch held to mark World Quality Day, said that the Standard’s introduction was timely, noting that in light of the challenges associated with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, “ensuring food safety is a public health priority”.

She added that despite the advances that have been made in food manufacturing and processing, safety remains “a significant concern”.

“Through the implementation of food safety management standards, such as the ISO 22000:2018, food safety risks can be controlled and also the possible benefits of increased market access can be garnered through this certification,” Ms. Parkins pointed out.

She said that the new Standard will, therefore, help food business operators to demonstrate to their consumers and other relevant stakeholders that they have implemented a critical quality system “and this will certainly provide consumer confidence in products”.

Ms. Parkins assured that the Ministry and its agencies remain committed to putting the necessary mechanisms in place to support food safety along the food chain… “from farm to fork”.

“The Ministry will continue to place a high priority on the protection of Jamaican consumers and global consumers of our Jamaican products and services,” she added.

Ms. Parkins commended the NCBJ on its critical role in ensuring that “our food will not cause any adverse health effects for the consuming public”.

“As we continue to work towards the building of a quality society and a quality economy, let us all continue to remain focused on and committed to [ensuring food safety],” she added.

For her part, Executive Director of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association (JMEA), Imega Breese McNab, noted that food safety and the implementation of and adherence to relevant safeguards is of “extreme importance” to the organization, of which 52 per cent of its membership is involved in the food and beverage industry.

She argued that investment in food safety mechanisms will serve to bolter consumer confidence in a company’s products, ultimately boosting their loyalty.

She pointed out that an intrinsic element in the customer experience is providing a finished product or service that is tailored to their health and well-being and will add value to their lives.

As, such, she said that implementation of the ISO 22000:2018 FSMS will provide entities with a holistic system of controlling and safeguarding their production environment, which will assure customers that there is a food safety management system in place that demonstrates concern for their welfare.

She noted that the Standard has the ability to help the productive sector to deliver on that expectation and to competitively expand their global market reach.

“Therefore, we must seek to position ourselves for sustainable growth and opportunities being presented [through the ISO 22000:2018 FSMS] to improve upon our standards and credibility. We must embrace and maximise it,” she stressed.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Breese McNab noted that manufacturers and exporters, especially in these times, will be looking at their bottom line, so the NCBJ has a responsibility to demonstrate to the various entities the significance that the Standard will have on customer value and need.

“I congratulate the NCBJ on this pivotal move, which will help to fuel economic development. I encourage our manufacturers and exporters in the food and beverage industry to contact them and begin the conversation about becoming ISO 22000:2018-certified,” she encouraged.

Stakeholders and other interests can get additional information on the ISO 22000:2018 Food Safety Management System at www.ncbj.org.jm, or by emailinginfo@ncbj.org.jm.

The NCBJ, which falls under the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, offers certification services to companies in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.

In addition to enhancing companies’ competitiveness, the NCBJ plays an integral role in the institutional strengthening and promotion of Jamaica’s National Quality Infrastructure.

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