FSPID ENSURING THAT FOOD IS SAFE

Posted by SR (riley) on Apr 20 2017 at 2:21 AM
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The Food Storage and Prevention of Infestation Division (FSPID) is carrying out its mandate to ensure that all food entering the island is safe for consumption.Deputy Food Storage Officer at the FSPID, Ms. Tamara Morrison, said the agency, which operates under the Ministry of Industry, Commerce Agriculture and Fisheries, has doubled its inspection of facilities to ensure that the required systems are in place to protect the health and safety of consumers. “The agency has inspectors at all ports of entry,” Ms. Morrison said, noting that once food leaves the ports, follow up assessments are done to ensure that the storage practices are sustained in order to maintain the quality of the product.

“We also go into wholesales, retails and anywhere food is sold or stored on a large scale.  We have routine inspections that are carried out at the big chain supermarkets and distributors,” Ms. Morrison pointed out. Checks are carried out for rodents, signs of rodent infestation or infrastructural concerns that might allow rodents and other insects to enter the premises or storage container, which could lead to further contamination. Ms. Morrison informed that if a breach is observed during the inspection, the business owner will not be able to continue their operations. “A zero tolerance approach is taken in these instances to ensure food safety,” she pointed out.

For fiscal year 2016/17, the inspectorate unit conducted 14,129 checks as  part of the established national quality infrastructure, food security and food safety programme. In addition, 1,277 dis-infestation operations were carried out and 903 statutory notices were issued to businesses that were non-compliant.Ms. Morrison noted further that 1,794 rodent bait stations were set and 14 rodent control programmes and 10 training session/lectures conducted to educate the business operators on international food storage practices. Ms. Morrison is assuring customers of food establishments that once the FSPID have been to a premises and a certificate of compliance have been issued it is safe to do business with these places.  She noted that the certificates are usually mounted and visible in the eateries for the public to see.

Chief Food Storage Inspector at FSPID, Mr. Owen Scarlett, said that there is an 80 per cent compliance rate for entities that handle and store large quantities of food, noting that in addition to the mandatory inspection that is done annually of all businesses before issuing the compliance certificate, his team of 21 competent inspectors do random visits throughout the year to ensure that proper food storage is always practised.Mr. Scarlett said that statutory orders such as notices for condemnation of goods, disposal, removal, detention and seizures, are issued to facilities that are in breach of the national and international safety and quality procedures regarding foods stored for consumption.

Mr. Scarlett said the FSPID is making use of technology such as the Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) to conduct quick assessment of goods and follow the trail from its destination of origin. Such, technology, he noted, also allows for greater efficiency in record keeping.Senior Food Storage Scientist at the FSPID, Mr. Marvel Austin, is encouraging businesses to conform to the standards and guidelines that have been instituted, adding that training is available at the FSPID for all stakeholders in order to increase their awareness of the laws and regulations for good food storage practices.
 Mr. Austin is also encouraging the public to report signs of food infestation by calling 927-1929-30, 977-6816-20 or visit the FSPID office at 5 Gordon Town Road, Kingston 6.

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