Rainforest raises food safety standard with $40m investment in micro lab
Food distributor Rainforest Caribbean has invested $40 million in the construction and operation of a microbiology laboratory, which is ISO 17025/2017-certified for food testing. The investment in the lab, which is located adjacent to Rainforest’s food-processing plant in Kingston, bolsters the company’s operating, production and export capacity and is in keeping with good manufacturing practices.
The laboratory enables Rainforest to conduct its own food safety checks and internal monitoring to ensure the maintenance of high standards and the quality of its products for the Jamaican and overseas markets.
Rainforest intends to recover the investment through the expansion into new export markets, increased production levels and greater efficiency – efforts which are significantly assisted by the laboratory.
“The laboratory is part of Rainforest’s commitment, as reflected in our mission statement, to provide the highest quality products to our customers. It’s also a key tool in bolstering our export thrust, which ultimately allows us to earn well-needed foreign exchange,” General Manager of Rainforest Seafoods Limited Jerome Miles said.
He was responding after the company was commended by Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Audley Shaw during a ceremony in Kingston recently in which Rainforest was recognised by Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation for its ISO 17025/2017 certification.
“With this accreditation, we are expecting to be able use our analytical results to guarantee that our food products meet global food safety specifications, thereby enhancing the certification process necessary to facilitate access to a wide range of international markets,” Miles pointed out.
The industry, investment and commerce minister encouraged more Jamaican organisations to pursue accreditation, stating that such actions can help the country to recover more quickly from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The sustainability, innovation and international standards of our nation’s main productive sectors, such as manufacturing, will be a key contributor to advancing our efforts to recover stronger, in a post-COVID-19 pandemic era,” Shaw noted.
FOR BENEFIT OF CUSTOMERS
Accreditation for in-house laboratories is not compulsory in Jamaica, and such accreditation must be earned by the facility.
Head of quality assurance at Rainforest Seafoods Clive Harris explained that the lab will bolster the quality standards at the company for the ultimate benefit of its customers.
“The team members of Rainforest Seafoods Limited Microbiology Laboratory take great pride in the fact that our operations and results will now be recognised globally, and that our customers and other stakeholders can be confident in the quality of our output,” Harris said.
The Veterinary Services Division, which provides critical food safety oversight in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, was instrumental in providing technical guidance to Rainforest throughout the planning and construction phases of the laboratory.
Director of the Veterinary Services Division (VSD) Dr Osbil Watson noted that Rainforest has set an example for other Jamaican food companies to follow.
“In accessing markets, especially for products of animal origin, food business operators (FBOs) must play a critical role in ensuring that only safe food is offered by them for human consumption. The internal own-checks done by the FBO augments regulatory inspection and monitoring, official sampling and testing along the farm-to-fork continuum and verification of final-product safety. The VSD commends Rainforest for their efforts at enhancing food safety by constructing this laboratory,” Watson said.