Food standards needed
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday August 25, 2011 – Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton has stressed the need for small island developing nations, such as Jamaica and its Caribbean neighbours, to establish standards, particularly in relation to food, to ensure their competitiveness in the global marketplace, as well as to safeguard the health and safety of consumers locally and overseas.
Speaking at a reception for delegates participating in a three-day Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)/Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) CODEX workshop, Dr. Tufton cited challenges which small developing countries and, in some cases, their larger counterparts encounter in efforts to integrate their economies into the wider network of external markets.
He pointed out that, increasingly, the wider marketplace is becoming networked and interlinked, requiring rules, as opposed to convention, to determine how competitive territories such as Jamaica are and how they can be advantageously positioned within the global context.
It is for these reasons, he said, that CODEX was established.The Codex Alimentarius Commission was created in 1963 by the FAO and WHO to develop food standards and guidelines, such as codes of practise under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme.
The main purposes of this programme are to: protect the health of consumers; ensure fair trade practices in the food trade; and promote co-ordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organisations.
“This is why the awareness of the need to establish standards and promote standards is so critical, and it is why we need training sessions, seminars, functions of this type, in order to promote, not just awareness, but to promote the establishment and the maintenance of these standards,” the Minister explained.
Against this background, Dr. Tufton underscored the need for much work to be undertaken in Jamaica, and other Caribbean territories to establish the requisite standards, which will enhance their positions globally.
“We have not, I think, sufficiently recognised the need of establishing these standards, and implementing these standards, and getting the certification that is required in order to position ourselves in the marketplace. It is something that I encourage, that the Government encourages,” he said.
Over 35 delegates from 13 English-speaking Caribbean states, including Jamaica, are participating in the three-day workshop, which began on Tuesday.