Barbados is “making some changes” and tightening “weaknesses” to ensure that all food produced or imported here meets international food safety standards, new Minister of Agriculture and Food Safety Indar Weir said Wednesday.
“The ministry, in consultation with stakeholders both in the public and private sector and with assistance from development partners, has prepared draft documents allowing a modern risk-based approach to the protection of animal, plant and consumer health,” Weir told the fourth annual Barbados Food Law and Industry Conference, organized by Genesis Law Chambers at the Accra Beach Hotel.
A national food inspection and food sampling plan was being prepared to coordinate the work of Government’s food safety watchdog agencies, he said.
Food inspection is spread among three separate ministries: the Veterinary Services, Markets and Laboratories section of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, the Environmental Health Department and Port Health Division in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI), an arm of Department of Commerce in the Ministry of Small Business, Entrepeneurship and Commerce.
There were some “weaknesses” in the current arrangement, and Government was “making some changes to make the food inspection and safety region more compliant with international standards”, Weir told the conference.
He said the authorities were “developing draft legislation, sanitation standard operating procedures and standard operating procedures, along with manuals for public markets, fish landing sites, and vending operations… a traceability manual for selected poultry, fish, and condiment businesses and … trained officers in the relevant areas” with help from international agencies.
Assistance has come from the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the Pan American Health Organisation), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture and the World Organisation for Animal Health, Weir added.