The National Certification Body of Jamaica (NCBJ), on Tuesday (November 17), unveiled its newest certification product – the ISO 22000:2018 Food Safety Management System (FSMS).
The Standard, which was launched virtually by Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw, outlines the requirements that stakeholders along the food chain can incorporate in their operations to help in ensuring they have an effective system that provides safe foods for consumers.
Its launch coincided with Jamaica’s celebration of World Quality Day, under the theme ‘Creating Customer Value’.
In his address, Mr. Shaw said the Standard marked another strategic step by the NCBJ to galvanise the potential of local producers towards improving their capacity, while fortifying Jamaica’s ability to protect its citizens and enhance the country’s position in the global marketplace.
He noted, however, that despite advances in food manufacturing and production, food safety remains a “significant concern”.
The Minister said the 2018 World Bank Report on the economic challenges of food-borne diseases indicates that total associated productivity lost in low- and middle-income countries, like Jamaica, is estimated at US$95 billion per annum.
Additionally, he said the Report showed that the annual cost for treating illnesses resulting from food-borne diseases is an estimated US$15 billion.
“In light of this, it behoves us to ensure that we are operating in line with international best practices that will improve our overall performance and promote international trade,” Mr. Shaw emphasised.
The Minister said he is pleased that the Standard’s provisions and benefits will position local producers to reduce incidents of food safety breaches and the associated costs; establish consistency in providing food-related products and services that are safe and meet regulatory requirements; and improve consumer-supplier-regulator confidence and relationships, among other out-turns.
“It is important to note that food standards benefit producers, manufacturers, regulators and retailers and provide a layer of reassurance within the global food supply chain… helping products to cross borders and bringing people food they can trust… safe food,” Mr. Shaw pointed out.
Against this background, he emphasised that ISO 22000:2018 “is applicable to any business along the food chain… from farm to fork”.
Mr. Shaw commended the NCBJ, which he said remains steadfast in fulfilling its mandate of providing management systems and playing its part in bolstering Jamaica’s economic growth by supporting local businesses.
“It is important to note that the business that seeks to embrace the value of its customers will be the one to continue on a stronger path,” he added.
Meanwhile, Executive Director of the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), Hopeton Henry, said the FSMS is a welcome addition to the NCBJ’s suite of products and is of particular importance in light of the fact that a significant percentage of Jamaica’s gross domestic product (GDP) comes from agro-processing.
Additionally, he said the Standard’s introduction comes at a time when companies continue to adjust to global changes relating to local food consumption and export, “and moreso as countries battle uncertainties such as the [coronavirus] COVID-19 pandemic that characterised 2020.
Mr. Henry urged stakeholders involved in the food industry, which he described as a “critical sector”, to consider the far-reaching effect of the Standard.
“For farmers, food producers, processors, distributors, retailers and others involved in hospitality, the principles outlined in this Standard are important. I encourage you to commit to the Standard and invest your time, energy and, indeed, your resources, financial and otherwise, to help ensure your own business success… and help in keeping your customers safe and healthy, thus reducing loss of productivity and medically related expenditure,” he added.
For her part, NCBJ Manager, Navenia Wellington Ford, said the IS0 22000:2018 FSMS maps out what stakeholder organisations need to do to demonstrate their ability to control food safety hazards, in order to ensure foods are safe.
Stakeholders and other interests can get additional information on the ISO 22000:2018 Food Safety Management System at www.ncbj.org.jm, or by firstname.lastname@example.org.
The NCBJ 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.
The agency falls under the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce.