JIS News

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), to coordinate the activities of agricultural, health and food safety bodies through the establishment of a single food safety agency, was signed this morning (May 25) at Jamaica House.
The signatories were Phillip Paulwell, Minister of Commerce, Science and Technology; Roger Clarke, Minister of Agriculture; and John Junor, Minister of Health.
The three Ministries are responsible for a number of agencies and divisions involved in activities pertaining to the regulation and inspection of food establishments, food import and export, as well as the control of pesticides among other tasks.
Development Minister, Dr. Paul Robertson, who observed the signing ceremony, explained that a key item of the MOU would be the establishment of a single office at the ports of entry for the use of all the regulatory agencies, which will be set up with the assistance of the Regulation, Legislation and Process Improvement (Regs and Legs) Project, in collaboration with the Jamaica Customs.
“Today, we are introducing another initiative, which underlines the government’s commitment to creating a business friendly environment where efficiencies and bureaucratic delays are minimized, if not eliminated, ” Minister Roberston said.
He noted that in October of 2001, Cabinet approved the National Quality Policy for Jamaica, which included the establishment of a single food safety agency and that a project has been established to focus on the creation of this agency, which is set to come on stream next year.
“To this end, in 2002, work on a Memorandum of Understanding between the three Ministries commenced under the auspices of the Agricultural Support Services Project (ASSP),” the Minister said, adding that the drafting of the MOU was done in collaboration with the National Agricultural Health and Food Safety Coordinating Committee (NAHFSCC), which is an inter-ministerial body, which was formed to coordinate food safety activities.
In the meantime, Minister Clarke said, “what we are doing today is putting a system in place, which coordinates all our efforts but addresses the two critical elements – business development and food safety – and it is in that regard that the Ministry of Agriculture welcomes this Memorandum of Understanding.”
Minister Junor welcomed the MOU, pointing out that there was provision for an oversight committee under the Food and Drugs Act. “I intend to operationalize that with representation from all of the agencies to ensure and monitor the MOU, we achieve the stated objectives within,” the Minister said.
On the other hand Minister Paulwell noted that food safety was a very sensitive and important issue, “so we have to ensure that as we work to streamline operations, that consumers are confident that we are going to have in place a facility that will strenuously insist and ensure that safety remains top priority,” he said.
“We want to pledge our full support and cooperation to make this MOU work and eventually to ensure that we get to that single agency that is our paramount priority today,” he said.

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