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Guyana turns to Jamaica to protect food exports

Published:Tuesday | September 19, 2017 | 2:40 PM

The Guyanese government has sought to protect its exports to the United States by turning to Jamaica for assistance in preparing processed food exporters to meet the requirements of the US Food Safety Modernisation Act (FSMA).

Signed into law by former US President Barack Obama in January 2011, the FSMA aims to ensure that the US food supply is safe by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it. 

As a result, Caribbean suppliers to the US market who fail to meet the requirements of the law could have their exports rejected.

In order to prepare to meet the requirements, the Guyana Analyst – Food and Drug Department (GA-FDD) contracted Jamaican food technology firm, Technological Solutions Limited (TSL), to undertake an intervention and training programme, according to a release.

That included an introduction to food safety and certification systems, training of food and public health inspectors and guidance with attaining ISO 17025 accreditation for food and drug laboratories.

The training programme also covered packaging and labelling requirements for Canada, the United States of America, Europe and the United Kingdom, as well as details of the FSMA, the release said.    

Training of Guyanese food industry analysts was not confined to work in their own country.  A number of analysts were in Jamaica for training at TSL’s testing laboratory in selected analyses to prepare them for work at Guyana’s food and drug department.

GA-FDD Director Marlan Cole was quoted as saying: “We took the initiative to ensure that trade between Guyana and the US ... continues unabated. The GA-FDD’s laboratory must be capable of lending support to the industry and the department’s inspectorate.”

According to Managing Director of Technological Solutions Limited, Dr. Andre Gordon, “one of the important things that any country can do is to make sure that the system in place for its food industry stays relevant with what is happening in the rest of the world.”