Where do food safety standards begin?


It is strange how we rarely consider food safety standards until we have an allergic reaction or food poisoning. Or even an autopsy report, which reveals that a death is linked to food consumption.

Where it all started

I recently attended a training at the Public Health Department in Kingston, Jamaica, to acquire my food handlers’ permit. This involved doing a one-day course called “Food Handlers’ 411”. I must admit that prior to this experience, I would rely on the acids in my stomach to protect me from the unhealthy or unsanitary food I may have eaten. This experience was rewarding, I was exposed to the 11 hand washing techniques for the food industry, food storage, as well as food and personal hygiene in the kitchen. Everyone should encounter this information.

Food safety standards is everybody’s business. From the farmer, whose market and reputation is at stake, to the end-user, whose life may be on the line. Everyone must have access to high quality food, every day of the year; it is a basic requirement for human health. Can you imagine it to be any different?

To ensure this basic requirement for human health, people involved in the production, sale and distribution of food must be conscious of the food contaminants – parasites, viruses, bacteria and even chemicals – and how they impact the end-user. They must observe food safety standards!

Knowing food safety regulations is a must!

Thankfully, there are local, regional and international bodies and guidelines that seeks to protect the most vulnerable in our society; namely the HACCP and ISO: 22000.

Food producers must be knowledgeable about the impact of fertilizers used, soil quality, source of seedlings, plant diseases; retailer/wholesalers need to adhere to internationally accepted storage techniques, food hygiene; manufacturers must observe standard operating procedures and seek to achieve internationally recognised certification, if they want to advance their businesses.

Believe it or not, agribusiness is linked to all industries, whether directly or indirectly; tourism, health, community development, industry, investment and commerce, labour and social security.

There are varied and numerous benefits to enjoy from these joined up sectors. However, adherence to safety standards and certification policies must be at the forefront to ensure maximum returns on investment.

As part of the Caribbean-Pacific Agrifood Forum, a three-day Learning Journey of Caribbean and Pacific experts will be facilitated to help stakeholders to connect the dots between agri-business, safety standards and certification as well as local farmers and economic development.

Field trips in Barbados that illustrate efforts in this direction will be organised.

What do you think about this approach?

Stay tuned on social media for more details on this subject using the hashtag #CPAF15. If you have a special interest in agribusiness, check out the full programme of the Forum, read the blogs and give feedback.

The Forum is being organised by CTA and partners in St Michael, Barbados from November 02 to 06.

Let’s Link, Learn, and Transform the agri-business sector!

Photo credit: Fred Unger/ILRI

Blogpost by Shelly-Ann Irving, Social Reporter for the Caribbean-Pacific Agri-Food Forum 2015. 

Copyright © 2016, CTA. Technical Centre for Rural and Agricultural Cooperation

CTA is a joint international institution of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the European Union (EU). CTA operates under the framework of the Cotonou Agreement and is funded by the EU.