Better food safety standards for Guyana  


GUYANA is now in a strong position to develop sound and credible systems of food safety management for processed, semi-processed and raw foods produced for local consumption, as well as for external markets.
It received the Codex Procedural Manual and Codex Strategic Plan last week.  The development of the Codex Procedural Manual and Codex Strategic Plan was made possible through collaboration between the Government of Chile and the local office of the Inter-American Agency for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).
Co-Chairperson of the National Codex Committee, Dr Maxine Parris Aaron, said the procedural manual and the strategic plan will help all stakeholders to achieve consensus in harmonising local food production standards with those required for international trade.
“It also has the potential to make the international market in agricultural products more inclusive, allowing small-scale food producers and processors to participate in large-scale value chains,” she said.

“Thanks to Chile and IICA in this south-south cooperation, I am really thrilled for the food sector. I am really excited to know that we are going down the road of standards in our food sector,” National Standards Council Chair Allison Butters Grant saidThe two officials made the comments at the end of a two-year project named “Strengthening the functioning of the National Codex structure in Guyana.”The south-south project was an integrated effort between the Chilean Food Safety and Quality Agency, through the Chilean Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AGCID) and IICA. The activity was financially supported by AGCID and the U.S. Department of Agriculture and was implemented with assistance from IICA.Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Lucia, Jamaica and Suriname were four other Caribbean countries which benefited from the capacity-building technical cooperation project.

Codex food safety Standards provide governments with guidance on the adoption of national food safety standards and regulations that enhance public health protection within their territories. Codex Standards and other texts, dealing with all aspects of food quality and safety, also promote fair practices in food trade. In an invited comment, Dr Parris-Aaron disclosed that the two main activities of the NCC are to protect the health of consumers and promote fair practices in the food trade. These goals are accomplished by development of food standards, food guidelines, codes of hygienic practices, and other related actions.Dr. Parris-Aaron said the NCC will also basically coordinate Guyana’s response to international CODEX activities, enabling Guyana to have a formal voice in international processes that have to do with food safety.Butters said that the NCC intends to impress on local food producers the importance of adhering to best practices in food production.“Guyana right now is in a poised position to feed the Caribbean diaspora.

We can look at what has been happening geographically within the Region in the last couple of days, the hurricanes and how we were not affected“Our brothers and sisters right now are thinking: what are we going to eat; how are we going to get our farms back together; and in the meantime we have tomatoes, pumpkins, boulangers spoiling at our markets.  We should be thinking at this moment, how can we can help our farmers in getting their produce to these regional markets?  What are the internationally accepted best practices for each individual product?” Dr. Michel Leporati, who is President of the CCLAC, which is the FAO/WHO Coordinating Committee for Latin American and the Caribbean, disclosed that the Chilean Agency of Cooperation and the Food Safety Agency of Chile will maintain an interest in the work of the NCC and will assist in capacity-building  wherever and whenever necessary The Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) is the Codex Contact Point for Guyana and acts as the secretariat for the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

The GNBS is the major communication link between the CAC and Guyana and acts as the coordinating body for all local Codex activities.