Post by Ismail AbdulAzeez on Jun 30, 2017 9:28:21 GMT 1
LARGE and small exporters from across the island were last week updated about new food safety standards at a two-day workshop organised by Technological Solutions Limited (TSL), which helps companies to reach international standards for the export of their goods.
Using the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system, exporters were taught how to upgrade their food safety plans to meet the new Preventive Controls Rule for Human Food of the United States's Food Safety Modernisation Act (FSMA).
The HACCP is a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards — from raw material production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product.
According to TSL, a number of companies have built their food and safety systems around the HACCP principles and plans because of the demand from customers, as well as to become compliant with select food safety standards.
As stated by TSL, in some cases, such as with products like ackee, juices, and seafood, HACCP plans remain a regulatory requirement by the Food in the US.
However, under the new preventive controls rule of the FSMA, companies are required to develop and implement food safety plans or upgrade their HACCP plan to become food and safety plans which focus on the prevention of all food safety hazards. In addition, to process controls, these plans also require controls for other hazards which have to considered, including allergens, radiological, supplier — and sanitation-related hazards. The final compliance date for most exporters is September 2017.
The workshop, which took place at TSL's office on Red Hills Road in Kingston, was targeted at key personnel in charge of developing and maintaining food safety and HACCP systems, such as quality assurance officers and supervisors, plant managers, HACCP coordinators, among others, and was facilitated by managing director of TSL, Dr Andre Gordon and manager of TSL's technical and consulting services (southern Caribbean), Helen Kennedy.
“A lot of people have been implementing HACCP, a lot of you have HACCP programmes and have been working with these programmes, but we have had a flood of requests from across the Caribbean from exporters… so we have had a lot of people saying the suppliers are calling them saying 'we need you to provide us with information that you are compliant',” Dr Andre Gordon said.
He explained that while the news “was all of a sudden” for regional exporters, TSL had been issuing warnings from last year that things were going to change for 2017. He added that there was pressure to comply by May 30, despite the fact that preventive controls for human food rules for most exporters commence in September, and so there is a gap which has now left many people confused.
“Also, a lot of people, having done the preventive controls for human food training, going back now trying to reconcile the existing or the new HACCP plans with the requirements of the Food and Drug Administration, are facing some challenges.so that is the reason why we put together this workshop,” Gordon stated.
He added that customers in the southern Caribbean were also having issues, which also helped to cement the need for the staging of such a workshop.
“… We need you to make sure that you leave here with not just the knowledge; this is about the how you do it. this programme is how do we make sure HACCP plans can make the transformation to be part of or to become a full food safety plan and what are the nuts and bolts that need to be fixed,” Gordon said.
Participants received training in areas such as the development and implementation of a USFDA compliant food safety plan, conducting hazard analysis, elements of the foreign supplier verification programme, and major differences between HACCP plans and USFDA-compliant plans, among others.