Local companies complying with FDA regulations ... Keen eye on food exports to US
Representatives from 22 local companies with food exporting ties to the United States (US) on Monday began a training process which will enable each to develop and approve preventive control measures for the US market in keeping with the new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food-Safety Modernisation Act (FSMA).
The FDA-FSMA mandates that all local or foreign food companies align themselves with the Preventive Controls for Human Food rule by September 18, 2017 by having the services of at least one Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI).
Each PCQI would have to undergo the standardised training curriculum and would have been certified by an organisation approved by the FDA.
A first of its kind in Jamaica, the three-day workshop is being spearheaded by Technological Solutions Limited (TSL) at its St Andrew offices.
"The training will be looking at how you handle a processed pack and ship food to the US in a manner that will make it safe. We will be looking at several process controls such as cleaning and sanitation, allergens that persons may have reactions to, suppliers, and economically motivated adulteration of food, which is where people knowingly contaminate food for economical gain. Once the production is finished, the documentation comes to the person for reviewing and signing off. They also look at the physical product, but it's mostly documentation," Andre Gordon, managing director of TSL and one of 13 local lead instructors for PCQI, told The Gleaner.
On the topic of maintaining export efficiency, Gordon emphasised that each company should have a minimum of two PCQIs on staff.
He added: "If the company only has one trained person and that person is sick or on a different shift, the products won't be allowed to leave the facility unless all the documentation is reviewed and approved by that PCQI. If they don't have a PCQI in place by September, then the FDA may prohibit their goods from entering the US market until they can prove that they have someone who is trained, because that person not only has to certify the exporter goods, but has to help the company develop the systems that are compliant with the FDA requirements."
The introductory cost for each individual to undertake the training is US$550, down from the standard US$800-900 and is inclusive of the FDA recognised certificate issued by the overseas body.
Gordon expressed his intentions for TSL to certify between 80 and 100 individuals by year end, with the second batch of persons to be trained May 1-3.
Of the 22 individuals, 19 are from manufacturing firms and the remaining three are TSL staffers.