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Trade Winds maintains high food standards

Published:Thursday | March 15, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Peter McConnell inside one of the storage areas at the Trade Winds Citrus Limited complex in Bog Walk, St Catherine.File

Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer

With the recent concerns about Jamaica's food security, one of the country's biggest food manufacturers, Trade Winds Citrus Limited (TWCL), is assuring that it currently meets and maintains the very highest standards as it relates to the production of processed foods.

As was reported by The Gleaner recently, "A recent audit on the state of inspection of meats and vegetable imports into Jamaica had raised serious concerns about the health risks to Jamaicans. Three facilities were audited in the 2008 visit and all received failing grades, with one ordered closed immediately. Inadequacies of the infrastructure at the ports of entry, consignments of meats, vegetables and fruits, and the by-products of these have been entering the country for distribution to the public with execrable standards, because proper inspection, evaluation and verification cannot be properly executed," the audit stated.

But according to Peter McConnell, the managing director of TWCL, consumers of its products have nothing to fear. "TWCL's food safety standards are excellent and in line with international standards, as demonstrated by our various certifications," he said. "Those certifications include the ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System that streamlines the manufacturing process by means of documented Operating Procedures and Working Instructions; the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point Food Safety Management System which identifies potential hazards in our food processing system; whereby comprehensive monitoring with data collection and analysis are employed and the Global GAP Good Agricultural Practices Management System that regulates farming activities, ensuring compliance to local and international requirements."

McConnell continued: "For example, Global GAP monitors the practices on the farm. TWCL only uses agro-chemicals that are permitted by the Pesticide Control Authority in Jamaica and the European Union. We also do routine residue testing on our fruit to ensure that there are no contaminants and that we operate within acceptable agro-chemical minimum residue levels. All these farm practices are documented and audited annually by external auditors to ensure compliance."

TWCL, he said, also meets all safety standard requirements in accordance with local legislations. In addition, annual audits and certifications are conducted for the Public Health Department against the Public Health Act (Public Health Food Handling Regulations), the Ministry of Labour against the Factories Act, the Jamaica Fire Brigade - Fire Prevention and Safety and the Bureau of Standards Jamaica against the Standards Act - certification of registration of an establishment. "Additionally, continuous internal audits are aligned to identifying potential hazards with subsequent implementation of corrective and preventive measures. To reinforce our safety standard requirements, on-going and remedial training are conducted, all participants are committed to continuous improvement of our management systems. TWCL has also enrolled in the Occupational Safety and Health Voluntary Compliance Programme coordinated by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security," McConnell said.

Committed to quality

The managing director said the company is guided by the mantra that it is committed to satisfying the expectations of its stakeholders - customers, employees and shareholders - by delivering products of consistent quality in compliance with the appropriate standards. This commitment shall be accomplished and maintained by training and developing personnel to fully utilise its abilities to meet the objectives of the company; by continuously measuring, evaluating and improving the management and operating processes, and by keeping abreast with modern technology and implementing them where applicable.

All this is made possible by a highly trained staff that is dedicated to ensuring the highest possible standards. "TWCL has a robust and highly trained Quality Systems Team (QST) that monitors all our inputs (imported and local) to ensure that they meet our quality standards. For example - Inputs (local and imported), are tested by the QST before they are released for use by the factory; on a daily basis factory equipment is tested by the QST before released for use; all juice batches produced are monitored from the point of filling and samples retained for continuous testing by the QST until its expiry date; we have a system of traceability allowing us to track down and recall all our products in the event of a food safety breach."