Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer
DR CARMEN Booker, the assistant regional director of the United States' Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has said Jamaica is much closer to being compliant to its standards for food and safety management than many other countries.
"Since I have been here, a few companies have been gracious to allow me a tour of their facilities, and I think Jamaica is doing well," said Dr Booker, who spoke at the 36th International Food Safety Conference of the Food Hygiene Bureau at Ritz-Carlton Hotel, in Montego Bay, St James.
"Jamaica is in a very good spot, I have seen a lot of countries that are a lot worse," she told the gathering of food experts.
Dr Booker, whose presentation was made against the background of recent changes to the United States laws - the coming on stream of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), said she was satisfied with the efforts being made by Jamaica in term of its bid to compliance.
most sweeping reform
The FSMA Act is considered the most sweeping reform to US food-safety laws in more than 70 years. It is an amendment to the food, drug and cosmetic act.
The changes are aimed at ensuring the safety of foods supplied to the US markets, and could result in foods produced in countries like Jamaica being barred from entering the US market unless they measure up to the required standard.
According to data provided by the regional director, the US imports 75 per cent of its seafood supply, 20 per cent of vegetables and 15 per cent of fruits. It is expected that by 2030, over 50 per cent of the overall food supply will be from foreign countries.
Dr Booker also used the opportunity to warn against third-party companies, or fraudulent websites claiming to be associated with the organisation.
"If they ask for money, then you know it's not FDA," Dr Booker said.