- The country’s National Food Safety Policy, specifically the Meat Hygiene Programme, has been further boosted by the Ministry of Health’s introduction of some 400 new and improved meat inspection stamps, manufactured at a cost of $3.5 million.
- The stamps are uniquely designed to correspond with the registration number of each of the Ministry’s 400 Public Health Inspectors.
- In personalizing the stamps, the Ministry anticipates that this will go a far way in enhancing the Inspectors’ accountability for the devices.
The country’s National Food Safety Policy, specifically the Meat Hygiene Programme, has been further boosted by the Ministry of Health’s introduction of some 400 new and improved meat inspection stamps, manufactured at a cost of $3.5 million.
The stamps, which were unveiled during a brief launch at Juici Patties Limited’s headquarters, in Clarendon, on November 26, are uniquely designed to correspond with the registration number of each of the Ministry’s 400 Public Health Inspectors, to whom they will be assigned for use in the inspection and stamping of meat products processed from animals legally slaughtered, to verify their safety for public consumption.
In personalizing the stamps, the Ministry anticipates that this will go a far way in enhancing the Inspectors’ accountability for the devices, and serve as a deterrent for the incidence of purported theft and misplacement, as well as misuse by persons who have reportedly engaged in illegal animal slaughtering.
The new stamps, which replace the rubber versions previously used, are manufactured by the Jamaican firm, Seals and Engravables, and have been modeled off the design used by the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA).
The devices use an irremovable food-safe ink that dries within a few seconds of being used to apply the requisite mark on animal carcasses, unlike that used on the rubber stamp, and the manufacturer has indicated that the imagery produced by the new stamp is sharper and easily recognizable when properly applied.
Two hundred and fifty stamps will initially be distributed to Inspectors, with the remainder scheduled for delivery thereafter. The existing rubber stamps will be recalled and destroyed by the Health Ministry.
Guest speaker at the launch, Health Minister, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, described the stamps’ introduction as a “proud moment” for the Ministry, in its quest to “continuously put measures in place to improve how we approach public health to safeguard the health and wellbeing of Jamaicans.”
The Minister pointed out that there are approximately 352 slaughter houses islandwide serving the local meat and poultry industry, pointing out that some 22,000 heads of cattle, 140,000 heads of pigs, 50,000 sheep and goats, and close to four million birds are inspected per annum, “which keep our Public Health Inspectors very busy.”
He informed that currently, the Public Health (Butchers) Regulations of 1989, Part 5, Section 21, stipulates that once an Inspector is satisfied that meat inspected is fit for consumption, he or she should affix the appropriate mark, as prescribed by Schedule Two of the Public Health (Meat Inspection) Regulations, 1989.
“This new stamp is simply better. If the stamp is lost or stolen, we have a public notification system in place as well as a system for the replacement that will prevent duplication,” the Minister said.
Dr. Ferguson commended Inspectors on the “hard work” they have been doing to ensure that meat produced locally and legally slaughtered is safe for consumption, and also for continuing to support the Ministry’s work and “maintaining good public health for Jamaicans.”
He also acknowledged the work and support of the Ministry of Agriculture in ensuring that meat and its by-products that are marketed, are safe.
Applauding the recent launch of the Ministry’s National Animal Identification and Traceability System (NAITS), under which livestock are tagged to help reduce the incidence of praedial larceny, Dr. Ferguson contended that the stamps’ introduction will significantly complement this initiative.
“This is a great example of joined-up Government, and the need for us to work together for the benefit of the health and well-being of Jamaicans. Our work has just begun. Now we have to ensure that these stamps are used appropriately, and do not get in the hands of the wrong persons,” he added.
Meanwhile, Director of Veterinary Health in the Ministry, Dr. Linnette Peters, also commended the Inspectors, and pointed out that since the passage of the 1989 Butchers’ Regulations, “we have not recorded any food borne outbreak or illness associated with the consumption of meat (in Jamaica).”