JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams, says Jamaica has been making critical advances in meeting international food requirements.
  • This includes training crucial stakeholders, providing funding for the upgrading of laboratories and ensuring that such facilities are accredited to international standards.
  • In March last year, the Chemistry Laboratory at the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) was accredited by the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation to the International Organization for Standardization/International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC) 17025 for nine food safety tests.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams, says Jamaica has been making critical advances in meeting international food requirements.

This includes training crucial stakeholders, providing funding for the upgrading of laboratories and ensuring that such facilities are accredited to international standards.

The State Minister, who was addressing Tuesday’s (March 17) opening of the 7th International Food Safety and Security Conference at the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall Resort in Montego Bay, said meeting the required safety standards are important  in ensuring that local food produce “can enter any market in the world.”

She informed that in March last year, the Chemistry Laboratory at the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) was accredited by the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation to the International Organization for Standardization/International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC) 17025 for nine food safety tests.

These tests, she noted, are significant for companies seeking to enter international markets.

“Two additional laboratories – Microbiology Laboratory and Packaging Laboratory, are far advanced in the accreditation process, where accreditation is being sought for some 13 tests,” she informed.

The State Minister said efforts continue to achieve compliance with the United States Food Safety Modernization Act and the Safe Food for Canadians Act.

As part of the process, the National Foods Safety Modernization Secretariat (NFSM), during the period October to December 2014, facilitated workshops for 180 cottage industry operators.

In addition, national positions were submitted to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the proposed rules for Produce Safety, Prevention Controls for Human Foods, and the Foreign Supplier Verification Programme, by the established deadline of December 15.  These rules are expected to be finalised in late 2015, with compliance by industry to be effective late 2016.

Mrs. Ffolkes Abrahams further informed that operators of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in the agro-processing sector are slated to benefit from capacity building in the new financial year to satisfy international food safety requirements.

She noted that the undertaking involves collaboration among the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB)/Caribbean Technological Consultancy Services (CTCS), and the BSJ.

“The project is aimed at developing a cadre of competent workers to implement food safety systems in some 14 food processing facilities,” she pointed out.

Mrs. Ffolkes Abrahams informed that last October, food testing laboratories were retooled, with the acquisition of seven pieces of equipment valued at $34.7 million, obtained under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Capacity Building Project, being implemented by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ).

“What this means is increased capacity for product testing and the creation of increased awareness on international standards and technical requirements in the public sector,” she pointed out.

Approximately 100 delegates are participating in the two-day International Food Safety and Security Conference, which is being held under the theme: ‘Food Safety and Security, a Global Perspective … Caribbean Readiness’.

Discussion is focused on international standards in food safety and security in the global economy.