Editor’s Note: The Caribbean, Central America, and Oceania comprise some of the world’s top tourist destinations. But behind the beautiful beaches, ancient ruins, and unique landscapes, each region is hard at work improving their food safety initiatives to be on par with the rest of the globe. The first part of this special report focuses on the Caribbean. The second and third parts will focus on Central America and Oceania, respectively.
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Explore this issueFebruary/March 2017
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The Caribbean welcomed an estimated 28.7 million tourists in 2015, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization. Given the scope, scale, and diversity of the Caribbean, its people and cuisines, and the significant tourism component of its economy, it’s no surprise there are many challenges to achieving and maintaining a high level of food safety, many of which are unique to the region.
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is among the most prominent food safety issues currently impacting Caribbean exporters, according to André Gordon, PhD, CFS, managing director of Technological Solutions Limited (TSL), a Kingston, Jamaica-based company that provides food product development, auditing, laboratory, training, and other food safety consulting services throughout the world.
“Compliance with the FSMA requirements that have come into force or are approaching their implementation dates is a concern for food manufacturers on the Caribbean islands,” Dr. Gordon says. “Specifically, the Preventive Controls for Human Foods Rule (21 CFR part 117), the Produce Safety Rule, traceability requirements, compliance with the Foreign Supplier Verification Program requirements, and conformance with the allergen management and labeling requirement are all in the fore front. So is understanding the implications of the full implementation of the FSMA, particularly the Hazard Analysis and Risk-based Preventive Controls regulations.”
Ongoing inspection of Caribbean food and ingredient exporters by the FDA is another issue, Dr. Gordon notes. “The FDA conducted 18 inspections in Jamaica in July and August 2016 alone, with all of the firms visited generally being acceptable, and just minor findings being raised in a few instances,” he mentions. “Moreover, meeting the food safety and quality systems requirements of buyers from the European Union (EU) and Canada, including for proof of compliance with allergen, labeling, residue, and other limits, is a constant challenge.”
Dr. Gordon says the ability to access the kind of technical and analytical support required to comply with importing country and buyer requirements can be both financially tough, as well as challenging for some Caribbean stakeholders, as the persons with the knowledge to assist, though growing, are few.
About Linda L. Leake, MS
Linda L. Leake, doing business as Food Safety Ink, is a food safety consultant, registered SQF contract auditor, and award-winning freelance journalist based in Wilmington, N.C. Specializing in agriculture, food, food safety, and travel, her articles have appeared in some 89 print and online publications. Along with garnering awards for her articles and photographs, she holds the prestigious Master Writer status with American Agricultural Editors’ Association. Majoring in Dairy Science, she completed a BS in Agriculture at the University of Wisconsin and an MS in Food Safety at Michigan State University. She’s an active member of IAFP, Toxicologists Without Borders, Inc., and the National Dairy Shrine. She’s currently enrolled in the International Development Doctoral Program at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast. Reach her at Llleake@aol.com.