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The food testing laboratory of the Scientific Research Council (SRC), has become the first such facility in Jamaica to become accredited to international standards.

The SRC received its certificate of accreditation from the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC), today (January 22), at a special ceremony at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston.

Speaking at the event, Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, said the accreditation is a significant milestone for Jamaica.

The Minister noted that it comes at a critical time for Jamaica, as the country seeks to implement the necessary measures to meet the requirements of the United States (US) Food Safety Modernisation Act (FSMA) that was enacted in January 2011, in a bid to strengthen the US food safety system.

He pointed out that in 2011, Jamaica exported to the USA, food valued at US$76.8 million and so, not being able to satisfy the requirements of this law, would severely impact the country’s foreign exchange earnings.

Mr. Hylton explained that the accreditation of a laboratory by JANAAC means that the facility has been evaluated by a team of assessors who have looked at both the Quality Management System and the technical competence of the laboratory and found that it conforms to the requirements of the international accreditation standard – ISO/IEC 17025.

“Therefore, the users of this laboratory can have confidence that the results generated are accurate, traceable and reliable,” the Minister said.

In the meantime, Acting Executive Director of the SRC, Hawthorne Watson, thanked the JANAAC for the award, while recognizing the members of his team who made it possible.

Mr. Watson noted that the SRC, as part of its mandate, continuously seeks to provide robust support of international standard to the productive and other sectors in Jamaica.

“We fully recognize that we are living in a world where consumers are having more and more discriminating, discerning and sophisticated taste. We are living in a world where regulations can become effective trade barriers, and perhaps most importantly, we are living in a world where quality is recognized, not as a final thing in itself, but as a receding ideal. You get as close as possible to it, but you never quite get there. Our intention is to take the SRC as close to that target as any other institution in the world,” Mr. Watson said.

For his part, Chairman of JANAAC, Dr. Cliff Riley, explained that the accreditation process is rigourous and takes between six and 24 months.

He also explained that there are several benefits to accreditation. These include: minimizing the risk of producing or supplying a faulty product; reducing the cost and avoid expensive retesting of services and equipment; protecting the corporate reputation; and enhancing customer confidence and improves acceptance of goods overseas.