- Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, is urging stakeholders in the food industry to ensure that modern safety procedures are applied in their facilities.
- The Government has a complementary role to play in building a modern food safety system and has been doing so through the Bureau of Standards.
- The conference was held under the theme: ‘Challenges to Public Health in a Global Environment: Time for Action’.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, is urging stakeholders in the food industry to ensure that modern safety procedures are applied in their facilities.
She said this forms part of measures to ensure safety of the domestic market, and that the country is in compliance with North American and European food importation regulations.
“Food safety should be the concern of everyone, but ultimately, the consumer is the final point in the food chain. As such, we must take the responsibility for the safety of the food that we eat, buy and prepare for our families,” she said.
The State Minister was speaking at the opening of the third annual international public health conference, at the Jamaica Conference Centre in downtown Kingston, today (October 4).
She said stakeholders within the sector must ensure the safety and quality of its products and for information to be provided to the consumer via proper labelling.
“Food retailers and food service establishments need to follow food safety principles and guidelines when preparing, handling, packaging, distributing, storing and serving food products. Staff must be trained in food preparation and handling techniques, and a better understanding of the occurrence of foodborne hazards,” Mrs. Ffolkes Abrahams said.
The State Minister said the Government has an essential and complementary role to play in building a modern food safety system and has been doing so through the Bureau of Standards Jamaica.
“In this regard, the Bureau of Standards Jamaica recently promulgated the Jamaican standard for the production of processed food utilising Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) principles (general)-JS 317:2012. This standard facilitates the implementation of appropriate food safety systems in local food processing establishments as well as provides general guidance to food processors for the application of the system,” she said.
Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams added that complementary private-public sector collaboration will also result in safer, greater public confidence in the safety of the food supply and significant contribution to achieving the goal of a modern global food safety system.
“The challenge for us now, as for many countries, is to find ways to further improve the performance of our public health systems to deliver better health to citizens and ultimately, improve the economic health of our country, despite the challenging economic conditions,” she said.
Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams noted that several government and non-government agencies directly or indirectly monitor food safety in Jamaica, and these include the Food Storage and Prevention of Infestation Division (FSPID).
“The frontline unit of the FSPID, the Inspectorate, is mandated to conduct inspections of any food which is intended to enter commerce. This includes all restaurants, warehouses, supermarkets and ports where food is imported and exported.
The food industry itself has a role to play in improving food safety,” she added.
The conference, which is slated to end on October 6, is being held under the theme: ‘Challenges to Public Health in a Global Environment: Time for Action’. It is being staged by the University of Technology, Joint Colleges of Medicine, Oral Health and Veterinary Sciences, School of Public Health and Health Technology (SPHHT).