#Jamaica, September 9, 2017 – Kingston – Chief Technical Director in the Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry, Dermon Spence, says the Government is committed to ensuring that Jamaicans have access to safe foods.
He said focus is being placed on strengthening policy, institutional and regulatory frameworks and providing technical support for food producers in meeting global safety standards through the implementation and maintenance of food-safety quality-management systems.
Mr. Spence noted that the management programmes, which include the Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs), Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), are germane to ensuring food security and boosting trade. He was speaking at the closing ceremony of the Chile Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) Cooperation Project at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in Kingston on September 6.
The technical cooperation initiative is geared towards the strengthening of the National Codex structure in countries such as Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia and Suriname. It is focused on the establishment of a sound National Codex Committee that will assist countries to improve participation as well as their ability to discuss topics of interest for the subregion at the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC).
The international standard-setting body, with more than 180 members, is responsible for a collection of globally adopted standards, guidelines, codes of practice and other recommendations relating to food production and food safety, known as Codex Alimentarius.
The CAC was formed within the framework of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/World Health Organization (WHO) to promote the health and safety of consumers and ensure fairness in the food trade.
Mr. Spence, who represented Portfolio Minister, Hon. Karl Samuda, at the function, noted that Jamaica has benefited tremendously from the project funded by the Governments of Chile and the United States. He highlighted, among other things, the production of an approved National Codex Procedural Manual and a Codex Strategic Plan.
The manual sets out the basic rules of procedure, the process for elaboration of Codex standards and related texts, and basic definitions and guidelines for the operation of Codex committees. It is particularly useful for national delegations participating in Codex meetings and for international organisations attending as observers. The strategic plan incorporates a list of programme areas and planned activities with a clearly defined timetable.
Executive Secretary of the Chilean Food Safety and Quality Agency (ACHIPIA), Dr. Michel Leporati, said that throughout the world, an increasing number of consumers and governments are becoming aware of food quality and safety issues.
“Consumers are now demanding that their governments take action to ensure that foods are of acceptable quality and that the risks of food-borne diseases are minimised,” he noted.
Mr. Leporati said it is important to ensure that the food needs of countries are taken into consideration in the approval of food-related standards. He pledged that Chile, as the Coordinator of the Codex Committee for Latin America and the Caribbean (CCLAC), will be working with countries to address food-safety challenges.