6.1 POLICY VISION
6.5 POLICY GOALS
6.6.5 Risk Analysis
7.1.3 Food Safety Secretariat
7.1.4 Other Institutions
7.1.6 Role of Producers
Food safety is an issue of growing importance due to several world-wide trends that contribute to increasing safety risks in food systems, such as the growing movement of people across borders; increased movement of agricultural and food products across borders; rapid urbanisation; changes in food processing and handling practices; and the reemergence/emergence of diseases, pathogens, toxins and other issues. Emphasis is now being placed on the ability of all stakeholders in the food chain to be able to demonstrate adequate traceability of all food sources. Issues relating to food safety will therefore impact on agricultural production, agro-processing, food service industry, trade and commerce, public health and overall economic development.
Today‟s global food market has placed the onus on Governments to undertake the regulatory responsibility of ensuring that the food being traded within or outside their borders is safe for consumption. In Jamaica, there is no single Ministry or Agency responsible for coordinating Jamaica‟s food safety programme. The responsibility for the food safety programme is shared by three main Ministries (Agriculture and Fisheries, Health, and Industry Investment & Commerce) and their respective department/divisions or agencies. As a result of this fragmentation of activities, there are a number of areas in which there might be duplication of effort and facilities by the Ministries/Agencies involved due to the legislation under which they operate.
The current food safety programme and activities are governed by over 20 Acts and Regulations. These Acts and their attendant regulations are administered by the Ministries of Agriculture and Fisheries; Health; Industry, Investment and Commerce; and Local Government.
In recognition of the deficiencies in the institutional framework governing Jamaica‟s food safety system, the National Quality Policy for Jamaica approved by Cabinet in October 2001, addresses the establishment of a “Single Food Safety Agency”. Whilst this recommendation is referred to, the preferred approach being strongly recommended is the establishment of a National Food Safety Council, which would be charged with the responsibility and legal authority for coordinating food safety efforts aimed at safeguarding human, animal and plant health, through the production of safe foods for both domestic and international trade and implement policies which would ensure Jamaica’s compliance with international trade agreements and standards. The vision of the policy is, therefore, to advance the national food safety and security systems in Jamaica based on the implementation of national and international standards aimed at safeguarding human, animal, plant and environmental health and the facilitation of trade through the application of science based principles. Enabled by an integrated institutional framework, effective interagency collaboration and harmonisation of legislation, as well as a strong public/private sector partnership, this policy will cover all aspects of national, regional, and international practices, principles, guidelines, standards and agreements governing food safety systems.
Food safety begins at the agricultural (primary) production level; hence emphasis should be placed on ensuring that the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries performs the lead role in the “production to consumption”, otherwise termed the „farm to fork‟, continuum. The vision of the policy is:
“To advance the national food safety and food security systems based on national and international standards aimed at safeguarding human, animal, plant and environmental health and the facilitation of trade through the application of science based principles, enabled by an integrated institutional framework, effective interagency collaboration and appropriate legislation, as well as a strengthened public/private sector partnership.”
The goals of the policy are to:
The policy addresses the following issues:
Policy recommendations addressing the above issues include:
This policy will be financed by budgetary support from the Government of Jamaica, cost recovery mechanisms and donor funding, where available.
Food safety pertains to the prevention, reduction or elimination of the risk of ill health or death, as a result of the consumption of foods whether fresh or processed, obtained through the domestic market, or by international trade1. Food safety is an issue of growing importance due to several world-wide trends that contribute to increasing safety risks in food systems, such as the growing movement of people across borders; increased movement of agricultural and food products across borders; rapid urbanisation; changes in food processing and handling practices; and the re-emergence/emergence of diseases, pathogens, toxins and other issues. Issues relating to food safety will therefore impact on agricultural production, agroprocessing, the food service industry, trade and commerce, public health and overall economic development.
Food safety is critical to the safeguarding of public health through the consumption of safe foods by consumers supplied by global or local food markets. Governments all over the world are intensifying their efforts to improve food safety as it is increasingly becoming an important public health issue. This is due to an increase in the consumption of unsafe food resulting in food borne illnesses and death, in some instances.
The global incidence of food-borne disease is difficult to estimate, but it has been reported that in 2005 alone, 1.8 million people died from diarrhoeal diseases2. A great proportion of these cases can be attributed to contamination of food and drinking water. In industrialized countries, the percentage of the population suffering from food-borne diseases each year has been reported to be up to 30%3. In the United States of America, approximately 76 million cases of food-borne diseases results in 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths each year4.
While most food-borne diseases are sporadic and often not reported, food-borne disease outbreaks may take on massive proportions. For example, in 1994, an outbreak of salmonellosis due to consumption of contaminated ice cream occurred in the USA, affecting an estimated 224,000 persons5. In 1988, an outbreak of hepatitis A, resulting from the consumption of contaminated clams, affected some 300,000 individuals in China6. In Jamaica some 30,000 cases of gastro-enteritis is reported annually from sentinel sites across the Island. However, only 17 food borne outbreaks were reported to the Ministry of Health via its surveillance system in 20087.
Food contamination creates an enormous social and economic burden on communities and their health systems. The World Health Organization8 reports that in the USA, diseases caused by the major pathogens alone are estimated to cost up to US $35 billion annually (1997) in medical costs and lost productivity. The re-emergence of cholera in Peru in 1991 resulted in the loss of US $500 million in fish and fishery product exports that year. Also, in recent times (2010), the epidemic outbreak of cholera in Haiti has resulted in a serious threat to food safety and food and nutrition security in that country.
FAO9 also highlights that analysis of the economic impact of a Staphylococcus aureus outbreak in India showed that 41% of the total cost of the outbreak was borne by the affected persons, which included loss of wages or productivity loss and other expenses.
The importance of an internationally recognized food safety system in today‟s global food market is critical to trade, especially for developing countries. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)10 highlights that access by developing countries to food export markets in general, and of the industrialised world in particular, will depend on their capacity to meet the regulatory requirements of importing countries. Food exports are a major source of foreign exchange earnings and income generation for rural and urban workers in agriculture and agro-industrial sectors; hence, making agriculture and agro-processing important to many developing countries. FAO purports that the long-term solution for developing countries to sustain a demand for their products in world markets lies in building the trust and confidence of importers in the quality and safety of their food supply systems. This requires improvement within national food control systems and within industry food quality and safety programmes.
With a current population of 2.6 million persons, and over 2.75 million visitors in 2009, it is of paramount importance that the quality of Jamaica‟s food supply meets the highest standards to satisfy domestic demand, as well as the requirements of our international trading partners. This can only be accomplished by the establishment and maintenance of a rational, integrated farm-to-fork agricultural health and food safety system in Jamaica based on accepted international standards.
The food industry also has a role to play in assuring food quality and safety through the application of quality assurance and risk-based food safety systems utilising current scientific knowledge. The implementation of such controls throughout production, handling, processing and marketing will lead to improved food quality and safety, increased competitiveness, and reduction in the cost of production and wastage.
In recognition of the deficiencies in the institutional framework governing Jamaica‟s food safety system, the National Quality Policy for Jamaica approved by Cabinet in October 2001, addressed the establishment of a “Single Food Safety Agency”. This Agency would be charged with the responsibility for satisfying human, animal and plant health through the production of safe foods for both domestic and international trade, and implement policies which would ensure Jamaica‟s compliance with international trade agreements and standards. Jamaica must become compliant with international trade agreements and standards. These agreements and standards serve to articulate the basic rules for food, safety standards, and are intended to facilitate global trade in food, and cover the entire food chain-“from farm to fork”. One of the objectives of the Agricultural Support Services Project 2001-2009 (ASSP) that was implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries was to improve the effectiveness of animal health, plant health and food safety systems. The ASSP facilitated the establishment of the National Agricultural Health and Food Safety Coordinating Committee (NAHFSCC) in 2001.
The NAHFSCC comprises of senior technical officers from various government entities, academia and private sector. The objective of the NAHFSCC was to establish and maintain a rational, integrated farm-to-table agricultural health and food safety system in Jamaica that harmonizes inter-agency conflict and overlap, and ensures the protection of public health in a manner consistent with WTO and other international standards. The Chairmanship rotates annually amongst the three key ministries involved in food safety, namely Agriculture, Health and Investment, Industry and Commerce.
After discussions with the National Quality Infrastructure Steering Committee, it was decided that since there were overlaps with the ASSP in the area of food safety, the ASSP was asked to complete a study to examine the feasibility of establishing a single Food Safety Agency. The ASSP then contracted consultants to complete the study which concluded that it was feasible to establish a Food Safety Agency in Jamaica. The consultants presented a final report inclusive of review of current food safety activities, food safety policy, concept paper and business plan in March 2005. It should be noted that the consultancy was monitored by the NAHFSCC, who also facilitated the development of this policy.
This policy recommends that the NAHFSCC should be given legal status and be formed into the National Food Safety Council.
In order to coordinate food safety activities among the portfolio Ministries, the ASSP through focus group discussions and seminars facilitated the development and documentation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) amongst agricultural health and food safety regulators. The MOU was signed in 2005 and the sub-committees emanating from this agreement are now functioning effectively. Joint work plans have been developed by these sub-committees and have initiated enhanced team work in areas such as food inspection, sampling and surveillance.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is the directing and coordinating authority on international health within the United Nations‟ system. WHO experts produce health guidelines and standards, and help countries to address public health issues. WHO also supports and promotes health research. Through the support of the WHO, governments can jointly tackle global health problems and improve people‟s well-being.
WHO has a membership base of 193 countries, including Jamaica, and two associate members.
WHO responds to public health and other developmental challenges by using a six-point agenda. The six points address two health objectives, two strategic needs, and two operational approaches.
WHO fulfils its objectives through its core functions:
These core functions are set out in the 11th General Programme of Work, which provides the framework for organization-wide programme of work, budget, resources and resultsentitled "Engaging for health"; it covers the 10-year period from 2006 to 2015.
The Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (WTO-SPS) measures entered into force with the establishment of the World Trade Organisation on January 1, 1995. The agreement provides a multilateral framework of rules and disciplines to guide the development, adoption and enforcement of sanitary and phytosanitary measures in order to minimize their effects on trade. It applies to all sanitary and phytosanitary measures that may, directly and indirectly, affect international trade.
The Agreement also sets out the basic rules for food safety and animal and plant health standards and allows countries to set their own standards. However, regulations must be based on scientific principles and applies only to the extent necessary to protect human, animal and plant life or health. These measures should not arbitrarily or unjustifiably discriminate between countries where identical or similar conditions prevail or are misused for protectionist purposes. Therefore these measures should not be used to create barriers to free trade, but only imposed to protect human, animal or plant health on the basis of scientific information.
The SPS agreement allows countries to set their own standards, but stipulates that regulations must be based on scientific principles, and that the measures should be applied only to the extent necessary to protect human, animal and or plant life or health. Higher standards may only be imposed if there is scientific justification (i.e., national standards stricter than international standards should be scientifically justified). Member countries are encouraged to base their national SPS measures on international standards, guidelines and recommendations where they exist.
The WTO Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement (TBT) tries to ensure that regulations, standards, testing and certification procedures do not create unnecessary obstacles to international trade. However, the agreement also recognises countries‟ rights to adopt the standards they consider appropriate (for example, for human, animal or plant life or health) for the protection of the environment or to meet other consumer interests. Moreover, members are not prevented from taking measures necessary to ensure that their standards are met. The TBT encourages Governments to apply international standards nationally to overcome the myriad of regulations that exporters and manufacturers could face in the trade of goods. However, the Agreement accords to Members a high degree of flexibility in the preparation, adoption and application of their national technical regulations.
The TBT also sets out a code of good practice for both governments and non-governmental or industry bodies to prepare, adopt and apply voluntary standards.
Codex is a collection of internationally recognized standards, codes of practice, guidelines and other recommendations relating to foods, food production, and food safety. The objectives of codex standards are to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in the international food trade. The Codex Alimentarius is recognized by the WTO as an international reference point for the resolution of disputes concerning food safety and consumer protection.
The Codex Alimentarius officially covers all foods, whether processed, semi-processed or raw, but far more attention has been given to foods that are marketed directly to consumers. In addition to standards for specific foods, the Codex Alimentarius contains general standards covering matters such as food labelling, food hygiene, food additives and pesticide residues, and procedures for assessing the safety of foods derived from modern biotechnology. It also contains guidelines for the management of official (i.e., governmental) import and export inspection and certification systems for foods.
In Jamaica, the codex contact point resides in the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ). There is also a National Codex Committee and several codex sub-committees which are led by Agencies in the major Government Ministries with food safety responsibilities.
The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) is an inter-governmental organization formed in 1924 and has 178 member countries, including Jamaica. The OIE has been recognised by the World Trade Organization (WTO) as the reference organization for international sanitary rules and is also the international body representing animal health worldwide.
It should be noted that in keeping with international guidelines, the responsibility for food safety in relation to animal production11 is with the Veterinary Services authority/ organization in each member country. Based on the OIE Terrestrial and Aquatic Animal Health Codes, international veterinary health certification is done by the Official Veterinary Authority of Countries.
Its objectives are to:
The OIE, as an organization, is committed to the establishment of acceptable international standards for quality Veterinary Services and to assist its Member Countries in implementing the relevant standards and measures.
The OIE expects all member countries to comply with the relevant international standards laid down regarding the infrastructure, organisation, resources, capacities and capabilities of their national Veterinary Services and that the role of the private sector and paraprofessionals will be clearly outlined and accepted.
In response to the demand from consumers worldwide for safe food, the OIE is working with relevant organisations to reduce food borne risks to human health due to hazards12 arising from animal production. The 3rd OIE Strategic Plan (2001-2005) recommended that "OIE should be more active in the area of public health and consumer protection," and noted that this should include "zoonoses and diseases transmissible to humans through food, whether or not animals are affected by such diseases", with the object of improving the safety of the "food production to consumption continuum" worldwide.
In 2002, the Director General of the OIE established a permanent Working Group on Animal Production Food Safety (APFSWG) to coordinate the food safety activities of the OIE. The Working Group's membership includes internationally recognized experts from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), and reflects a broad geographical basis. The 4th OIE Strategic Plan (2006-2010) supports the continuation of this mandate, recommending that the APFSWG "continue to work with other relevant organisations, especially the Codex Alimentarius Commission, in reducing food borne risks to human health due to hazards arising from animals".
The APFSWG has drawn up a detailed work programme for the development of standards relevant to animal production food safety, covering hazards that arise on-farm and at slaughter, with a primary focus on measures applicable at the animal production level. The APFSWG recognised that the goals of the OIE can only be achieved by working in collaboration with the WHO, the FAO and their subsidiary bodies, particularly the CAC. This is essential to avoid contradictory standards, address gaps between current standards and ensure the most effective use of available expertise. To this end, the OIE has strengthened formal and informal relationships with relevant international organisations and expert groups.
The APFSWG identified as priorities an examination of the scope to develop joint OIE and Codex standards to address gaps and duplication in standards, and develop procedures for mutual recognition of standards where appropriate.
The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) is an international treaty relating to plant health. The purpose of the Convention is to secure common and effective action to prevent the spread and introduction of pest of plants and plant products and promote appropriate measures for their control. Its application is much wider than the protection of cultivated plants. The Convention extends to the protection of natural flora and plant products. It includes both direct and indirect damage by pests (including weeds). The provisions extend to cover conveyances, containers, storage places, soil and other objects or material capable of harbouring plant pests.
Application of phytosanitary measures should be based on the following principles:
The IPPC provides a framework and forum for international cooperation, harmonization and technical exchange between contracting parties dedicated to these goals. Its implementation involves the collaboration of national plant protection organisations which are the official services established by Governments to discharge the functions specified by IPPC and regional plant protection agencies, which may function as coordinating bodies on a regional level for participation in the activities to achieve the objectives of IPPC.
One of the most important activities of the IPPC is the establishment of International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPMs). ISPMs provide countries with a basis for their national phytosanitary measures. Harmonization of measures at the regional and international levels will substantially reduce the burden of countries to justify their own measures and to meet the measures of their trade partners. Jamaica is not bound by IPPC Standards, but adheres to them.
The Government‟s food safety programme is currently managed by a number of agencies and entities distributed across the Ministries of Agriculture and Fisheries, Health, and Industry, Investment and Commerce.
In order to coordinate food safety activities among the portfolio Ministries, a MOU entitled “Coordination of the Activities of Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agencies in Jamaica” was signed in 2005 amongst the three Ministries involved in regulating these activities. Joint work plans developed under this MOU has initiated enhanced collaboration in areas such as food inspection, sampling and surveillance.
The current food safety programme and activities are governed by over 20 Acts and Regulations. These Acts and their attendant regulations are administered by the Ministries of Agriculture and Fisheries, Health, and Industry, Investment and Commerce. Appendix 2 provides further details on the provision of these legislations.
Today‟s global food market has placed the onus on Governments to undertake the regulatory responsibility of ensuring that the food being traded within or outside their borders is safe for consumption. Jamaica exported US$236.9 million of food in 2009 and imported a massive US$802.3 million in the same year. Therefore the country‟s trade in food is critical to its food security and export earnings. As a consequence, it is imperative that an adequate food safety programme (including the development of standards) be developed and implemented to protect consumers, including the over 2 million tourists that visit the island annually. Additionally, maintaining access to foreign food markets require the adherence to international food safety standards.
A food safety policy is important to the development of an improved food safety programme as it provides the overarching framework and principles that will guide the requisite interventions. These principles are based on, inter alia, the assurance of public health and well being; development of an internationally competitive food production system; promotion of the development, adoption and enforcement of effective and relevant legislation and regulations; and fair efficient and cost-effective recovery systems, etc.
In Jamaica, the responsibility for the food safety programme is shared by three main Ministries (Agriculture and Fisheries, Health, and Industry Investment & Commerce) and their respective department/divisions or agencies. Prior to the establishment of the NAHFSCC and the subsequent MOU agreed upon by three Ministries, there was insufficient coordination of food safety activities carried out by these Ministries. However, the NAHFSCC and MOU have improved the coordination of food safety activities, evidenced by the opening of the Jamaica Import/Export Inspection Centre (JI/EIC) with responsibility for streamlining inspection and document processing at the Ports for greater efficiency.
Despite these efforts, there is still no single Ministry or Agency responsible for coordinating Jamaica‟s food safety programme. As a result of the fragmentation of activities, there are a number of areas in which there are duplication of effort and facilities by the Ministries/Agencies involved as a result of the legislation under which they operate. Therefore, any plan for implementing an effective food safety programme must take into consideration gaps, limitations and unnecessary duplications in the current system and aim to rationalize these agencies and activities.
In order to improve food safety practices in the food trade, it will require interventions and changes in both the operations and relationship between public and private sectors, and support from academia and research institutions. These actions should be guided by a comprehensive policy, legislative and regulatory framework that has the full support of all stakeholders that form part of the food trade.
To advance the national food safety and food security systems based on national and international standards aimed at safeguarding human, animal, plant and environmental health and the facilitation of trade through the application of science based principles, enabled by an integrated institutional framework, effective interagency collaboration and appropriate legislation, as well as a strengthened public/private sector partnership.
The policy will cover all aspects of national, regional, and international practices, principles, guidelines, standards and agreements governing food safety systems. The policy shall include all public and private entities involved in the scientific, technical, operational and management aspects of food safety and control systems in the country.
The policy will be underpinned by a national food control strategy; strengthening of infrastructure and institutional framework; compliance policies which establish specific or general limits to which products, processes and practices must comply, and accompanied by effective and efficient food control systems and legislation. Ongoing training of stakeholders, public education and awareness are to be considered key elements to the successful undertaking of this policy. The core component of the policy will be driven by the promulgation and enforcement of appropriate legislation which will impact the following key areas:
The principles guiding the food safety policy are:
The goals of the policy are to:
6.6.1 Legislative Gaps and Overlaps
The current food safety legislation in Jamaica is administered by various Government regulatory Agencies. This situation has led to areas of gaps and overlaps resulting, at times, in a lack of compliance, enforcement and unclear jurisdiction among Ministries and Agencies involved.
The relevant fines associated with most existing legislations do not serve as a deterrent where breaches occur.
At present, there are over six main entities/agencies of Government which are responsible for the safety function along the food chain. The fragmented nature of the function has posed difficulties for coordinating and streamlining activities and has resulted in overlaps and gaps in the country‟s food safety system.
Given the wide variety of foods and the complex system of production, processing, transportation, storage, marketing, and use of foods both locally and abroad, the issue of food safety spans different Ministerial portfolios and is governed by various pieces of legislation. An institutional arrangement is needed to facilitate a regular updating of the Ministers on food safety matters and actions, especially when there is a food safety crisis. An InterMinisterial Food Safety Committee comprising three Ministers would be appropriate. This committee would meet, say, quarterly, or as necessary in the case of a food safety crisis.
Since its establishment the National Agricultural Health and Food Safety Coordinating Committee (NAHFSCC) has proven to be an effective organ in the coordination of food safety issues.
However there is a need for the NAHFSCC to be accorded the legal underpinning to undertake the necessary oversight and national coordination of food safety issues. This Committee should therefore be given legal status and renamed National Food Safety Council (NFSC).
Globalization and liberalization of markets have created greater food safety challenges. Governments are now required to comply with the sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures in order to satisfy trade requirements. There is currently inadequate capacity and capability to respond effectively to the globalization of food trade.
The current traceability systems to guarantee origin, effect recalls, condemnation and removal from distribution systems of unsafe or questionable food are informal and inadequate, and do not meet all national, regional and international standards.
6.6.5 Risk Analysis
Risk analysis is an integral activity of all modern food safety systems and involves risk assessment, risk management and risk communication. The capability and capacity to conduct appropriate risk analysis are inadequate. Risk analysis capabilities are required under the WTO/SPS Agreement to which Jamaica is a signatory.
There is a need for Jamaica to participate more fully in meetings in which international food safety standards and guidelines are being discussed and developed, for example, CODEX Alimentarius, IPPC, OIE, FAO and WTO/ SPS Agreement. In addition, there is a need for greater collaboration, communication and follow-up among appropriate Ministries/Agencies on food safety matters covered under the relevant international agreements.
Research needs to be an integral part of the food safety system and should be undertaken in a systematic way. There is the need for greater collaboration among National Institutions and Academia in food safety research. Policy decisions on food safety matters should where necessary be guided by adequate research
Currently there is significant under reporting of food-borne-related illnesses and intoxication. This has served to impede the undertaking of required responses or corrective measures to address the problem. In addition, there is only a limited early warning system for use by authorities to institute preventative measures for food-borne related illnesses. Access by the public to the information concerning food-borne related illnesses/diseases in Jamaica is very limited and negatively impacts on consumers‟ decision making.
There is also the need to improve data management and communication to stakeholders.
It is both a national and international requirement that laboratories used for food safety analysis and testing be accredited by an approved body. Currently, there are a number of testing laboratories which are in the process of seeking accreditation. The lack of accredited laboratories poses tremendous challenges for Jamaica‟s export trade, as it is now a major requirement for international trade. In order to meet prescribed standards, most laboratories require some form of upgrading. The majority of these laboratories are regulatory in nature and are Government operated. Such requirement demands that resources be made available to implement procedures aimed at acquiring accreditation for the relevant laboratories. In order to meet the prescribed standards, most laboratories require some form of upgrading, a process which has already begun at several of these laboratories. A network of accredited laboratories should be established as the basis for the laboratory support system.
6.6.10 Monitoring of Food Production and Distribution Systems
Food production and distribution systems for local consumption are not adequately monitored for residues and contaminants (biological, chemical and physical). A lack of these controls will impact negatively on food safety. The current system does not allow for adequate traceability, speedy assessment and implementation of corrective measures.
6.6.11 Ensuring that Imported Food Is Safe for Consumption
A significant amount of food/feed consumed locally is imported. The current national food control system (inclusive of inspection, monitoring and testing of imported foods) needs to be strengthened to verify safety and quality.
6.6.12 National Food Safety Emergency Response Systems
6.6.13 Public Awareness and Education
The lack of awareness of producers and consumers on important food safety issues is of major concern. As a consequence, there is a low level of responsibility exhibited by producers and consumers alike, as it relates to food safety. Some food manufacturers and producers also exhibit this attitude towards food safety issues.
Currently, there is no structured public awareness and education programme dealing with food safety issues.
7.1 Institutional Framework
The food safety functions will be coordinated through three institutional arrangements, namely:
7.1.1 Inter Ministerial Food Safety Committee
The Inter-Ministerial Food Safety Committee will comprise the Ministers of Agriculture; Health; and Investment, Industry and Commerce. The Committee will meet quarterly or semi-annually to:
In case of a food safety emergency, the Inter-Ministerial Food Safety Committee will meet more frequently as appropriate to take policy decisions, monitor agreed interventions and report to Cabinet as necessary. The Inter-Ministerial Food Safety Committee will be supported technically by the National Food Safety Council and administratively by the Secretariat. Costs associated with convening meetings of the Committee will be included in the budget of the Secretariat.
The chairmanship of the Inter-Ministerial Food Safety Committee shall be the Minister of Health given that Ministers mandate to ensure the health of the population.
7.1.2 National Food Safety Council
The National Food Safety Council, the coordinating agency, will consist of the heads of the six food safety regulatory agencies (or their nominees/alternates) along with other relevant technical/policy representatives from relevant stakeholder agencies such as the Universities, the Ministries, etc. The functions of the National Food Safety Council will be to act as a forum to:
The broad functions of the NFSC shall include the following areas:
The chairmanship of the Council will rotate every two years among the three Ministries with the initial chairman being from the Ministry of Health.
In addition, the National Food Safety Council shall be available at a consultative level for the development and monitoring of food safety programmes operated by the Government and other organisations. Such programmes will include:
The Secretariat will be responsible for the following:
The Codex Administrative and Technical Secretariat that is housed in the Jamaica Bureau of Standards will be expanded to include the secretariat functions of the Inter-Ministerial Food Safety Committee and the National Food Safety Council. The Bureau of Standards would fund any incremental cost of the Secretariat relating to the Inter-Ministerial Food Safety Committee and the National Food Safety Council.
Other institutions which are critical in the implementation of the policy are:
7.1.6 Role of Producers
Producers shall take responsibility for the production of safe food. This will entail:
This policy will be financed by:
Monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the policy will be the responsibility of the policy division in the portfolio Ministry that will have overall responsibility for food safety. It is anticipated that this policy will require a full review in 3-5 years of its adoption to ensure progress with local and international developments.
The Vision 2030 Jamaica National Development Plan provides the blueprint for the country’s strategic development over the next 22 years. It presents the goals, outcomes, strategies and actions, and the implementation, monitoring and evaluation framework that will lead the country to sustainable prosperity by 2030, within the context of the country’s economic, social, environmental and governance structures.
Vision 2030 Jamaica is based on the Guiding Principles listed below:
In order to achieve developed country status, the Plan will give priority attention to the following key areas of national development:
10.2 Plant Health Policy
The policy seeks to address the gaps and failures in the current plant health system, in light of requirements of international treaties and agreements of which Jamaica is signatory and food safety and phytosanitary standards of our major trading partners. The policy identifies issues faced by Government that hinder the development of an efficient plant health system. The policy makes provision for the revision of existing legislation, building of institutional capacity, scientific systems, quarantine capacity, surveillance systems, emergency response for pest outbreaks and increased public awareness.
General goals of the plant health policy are to:
The National Plant Health Policy was approved by Cabinet No. 26/10 on July 12, 2010 and also laid as a Ministry Paper in January 2011.
10.3 Draft Animal Health Policy
This policy is currently being drafted and will cover the health and welfare of animals of aquatic and terrestrial natures that are used for food, work, sports, companionship, research, teaching and entertainment (equine).
It will determine the core activities for the animal health sector and provide guidance to the veterinary authority in relation to the health, productivity and welfare of animals; the movement of animals or animal products through the use of land, sea or air, locally or for export; the production of animals and animal products; and health regulation and certification of animals and their products.
The policy will seek to address the gaps within the current animal health and welfare system, in tandem with OIE guidelines, and will include provisions for an effective legislative, regulatory and institutional framework for proper functioning of this system.
10.4 Draft Biosafety Policy
This policy seeks to provide, through the establishment and monitoring of standards, a safe and enabling environment for the development, transboundary movement, handling and use of genetically modified organisms, while managing risks to human health and biodiversity.
The main objectives of the National Biosafety Policy are to:
The policy is expected to allow Jamaica to exploit biotechnology and to provide for the protection of the country’s human resources and biodiversity against the possible adverse effects of the application of this technology.
The implementation of the National Food Safety Policy will play a vital role in ensuring that Jamaica meets internationally recognized food safety standards and guidelines and signals Government’s commitment to improving the quality and safety of the food supply systems. The Policy will provide the foundation for a comprehensive and integrated approach to food safety and food security programmes that will result in the protection of the health of consumers in the local and export markets.
The policy will impact on public health, animal health, food safety, nutrition and domestic and international trade. It will include all public and private entities involved in the scientific, technical, operational and management aspects of food safety and control systems, farmers, producers, business operators in the farm-to-fork continuum in the country. Ongoing training of stakeholders, public education and awareness are to be considered key elements to the successful undertaking of this policy.
This policy reviewed the issues affecting food safety in Jamaica and recommended ways in which these problems/issues can be resolved. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries believes that the institutional and legislative changes that have been recommended will ensure utmost safety in the consumption of food.