Tue | Aug 21, 2018

Safe fruits US only interest

Published:Tuesday | May 10, 2016 | 12:00 AMRyon Jones
A pod of ackee hangs from a tree.
Counselor for public affairs at the United States Embassy, Joshua Polacheck

Counsellor for public affairs, at the United States Embassy in Kingston, Joshua Polacheck, say that the name of the standard used locally by ackee processors is not important as long as the fruit is prepared in a manner that meets or exceeds the US requirements and is approved.

"The Embassy constantly seeks to expand trade in both directions and with the large diaspora community as well as its growing use by in-the-know consumers, ackee exports present an unique opportunity to grow Jamaica's exports, both agricultural as well as more value-added products like frozen paddies," said Polacheck.

Ackee imports were banned in the United States (US) for nearly 30 years due to the naturally-occurring toxic amino acid derivative, Hypoglycin A, found in the fruit when not allowed to ripe fully on the tree or cleaned properly after being picked.

Lifted the ban in 2000

The US Food and Drug Administration, having been satisfied with the safe processing methods that had been developed locally lifted the ban in 2000 while insisting that importation would only be allowed from approved processing companies.

In response to the US reopening its market to ackees and the implementation of general food establishment registration requirements in 2002, the BSJ developed the Processed Food (Exemption) Regulations, which was signed into law that same year.

For food processing establishments to meet the requirements of the regulation they are obligate to have in place a HACCP System; or any other quality management system which meets the requirements of the BSJ as set out in the Jamaica Standard Specification for Canned Ackee, the Jamaica Standard Specification for the Production of Processed Food utilising the HACCP principles or any other prescribed safety or standard specification.