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Story Highlights

  • The Senate on Friday (April 26), began debate on the Food Storage and Prevention of Infestation (Amendment) Act, provisions of which will serve to improve the operational standards within the food industry, to ensure that food is wholesome and safe for consumption.
  • Piloted by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., the Bill seeks to modernise the principal legislation, in keeping with international best practices, advancements in technology and other changes.
  • The principal Act sets out provisions directing persons who manufacture, store or sell food as to the required conditions of their buildings. This is in an effort to maintain hygienic conditions in the food industry.

The Senate on Friday (April 26), began debate on the Food Storage and Prevention of Infestation (Amendment) Act, provisions of which will serve to improve the operational standards within the food industry, to ensure that food is wholesome and safe for consumption.

Piloted by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., the Bill seeks to modernise the principal legislation, in keeping with international best practices, advancements in technology and other changes.

The principal Act sets out provisions directing persons who manufacture, store or sell food as to the required conditions of their buildings. This is in an effort to maintain hygienic conditions in the food industry.

Senator Charles Jr. pointed out that amendments to the Bill have become necessary as the principal Act is now outdated, having been enacted in 1958, and the supporting Regulations passed in 1973.

“In keeping with the Government’s thrust to improve the overall efficiency of the public sector, through centralisation and modernisation, it is important that we update our laws,” he said, adding that the amendments seek to expand the reach of the legislative framework in keeping with developments in the food industry and by extension, the authority of those who also seek to oversee it.

He pointed out that importantly, the amendments will “ensure the safety and wholesomeness of the food being consumed by all Jamaicans and this extends to the corner shop, the small cook shop, the supermarkets, the restaurants and hotels across our country.”

Specifically, the amendments address the removal of outdated pesticides; widening the methods of disinfection, such as dusting and insect baiting; and the revision from imperial measurements to the metric system.

“Furthermore, the amendments seek to strengthen the enforcement mechanisms by increasing fees and penalties, and so there are also maximum limitations with regards to that, and the discretion of the court which will be utilised for particular circumstances,” Senator Charles Jr. said.

He assured that in the modernisation process, the Government will also ensure that it keeps abreast with the advancements in technologies and other changes which include incorporating new active ingredients of pesticides; using modern recording devices in investigations; updating the forms and the certificates that are used; and the new techniques of pest control.

Senator Charles Jr. further stressed that it is also important to ensure that the oversight of the industry is efficient and effective.

“We look towards the oversight of the industry by ensuring that the food is transported, it is stored and it is dispensed in a clean and safe environment. The public will be further protected from the spread of diseases resulting from infestation and contamination of food through the amendments that we seek,” he said.

In the meantime, following notable contributions from both Government and Opposition Senators, Senator Charles Jr. requested that the debate be suspended until the next sitting of the Senate, so that these inputs can be considered.

“All the Senators have made suggestions which are worthy of serious consideration. I believe that the Senate should present a Bill that is most effective. At the next sitting we would’ve had sufficient time for myself and the technical team to adequately consider all of the various suggestions,” he said.