Barbados’ national standards for milk and milk products are outdated.
No fewer than six mandatory standards, most dating back to 1975, do not reflect practices and processes which currently obtain.
Technical Officer for Food at the Barbados National Standards Institution, Cheryl Lewis, told Barbados TODAY, the BNSI was now looking at revising these standards.
“Now we are seeing a lot more reconstituted products on the market; so that would have to be taken into consideration when the standards are revised,” Lewis said.
“Things that would have obtained before like how you would transport — some things would still remain the same — but obviously, now you don’t get milk in glass bottles, little things like that which the (new) standards need to reflect.”
The technical officer explained, too, that the actual technological changes in the world would also have to be reflected, even though the specification for milk would still be milk.
“The standards do not speak to reconstituted milk because the market wasn’t going in that direction [at the time]. It was fresh milk, [or] it was pasturised milk,” she observed.
She expressed some concern about the content of the milk being produced today, which she said “ended up with a solid in the bottom, which is more like a settling”.
Lewis identified the evaporated milk as one such product.
“We used to see more fresh milk,” she asserted, “but now I’m wondering the source of the milk, which makes me think there is more reconstituted milk.
“There is ready access to fresh milk due to the excess milk now from local farmers. So I don’t know if they use the fresh milk for the flavoured and other milks and then use something else for evaporated milk. To me, it’s not the same as it used to be.”
“You always end up with that settling in the bottom. You feel the weight when you open the carton, you see the settling,” she declared.
The BNSI technical officer said if consumers complained to the institution, the regulatory agency would investigate the issue and seek answers.
“But to say we will go in to monitor to make sure that people are using the right source for their products, I don’t think it is our role,” Lewis added.
“I know the Ministry of Health would be on site to see certain things, more from a public health perspective, to ensure the handling practices, storing of products and materials, how they manufacture their products, that they are not going to compromise them, therefore transferring it with the product to make consumers ill.”
She explained though that once a mandatory standard existed, it should be enforced by the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. The existing national milk standards include those for bacteriological analysis of milk and methods of analysis of milk and milk products, all of which were introduced back in 1975; and the production, processing, transportation and distribution of milk, implemented in 1984. (EJ)