Local manufacturers have been told they must comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) which is designed to strengthen food safety protection in ways that help minimise the risk that unsafe food will enter the US market."'You must ensure that your products are in keeping with these global food standards if you are to be internationally competitive and increase our country's export capacity," Susan Singh Seerattan, director Business Development at the Ministry of Trade told participants at a stakeholder consultation hosted by ExporTT Limited and the ministry.
"There are severe implications for our local manufacturers for non-compliance, as your products run the risk of being recalled or even barred from entering the US market.
"It is therefore imperative that we put in place the systems and infrastructure that are needed to support our local companies in their drive to conform to the FSMA requirements."
Singh Seerattan said ensuring local companies become compliant with FSMA and other international food safety regulations will contribute to the development of the industry and result in successful diversification of the T&T economy.
Also addressing the 50 plus audience of local food and beverage manufacturers at the session at the Kapok Hotel was Dr. Carmen Booker, assistant regional director of the United States Food and Drug Administration, Latin American Office. She emphasized the importance of becoming FSMA compliant and addressing food safety at every step of the manufacturing and exporting process.
Christopher Lewis, CEO of exporTT said the agency's primary goal is to assist exporters in realizing their potential and goals toward the development of competitive and sustainable export sector. "ExporTT is committed to assisting companies in becoming aware of and compliant with requirements for market access in particular the US as it is one of T&T's main export market." he said.
Lewis urged manufacturers present to "participate in discussions and provide feedback on the rules and to keep abreast of the changes in this evolving legislation."
The FSMA Act was signed into law on January 4, 2011. The legislation is a proactive approach to dealing with the threat of foodborne illnesses on the citizens of the United States. It also represents a shift in focus from responding to food contamination to preventing outbreaks.Under the Act, among other procedures, food and beverage manufacturers are required to have their food tested by an accredited laboratory; share their food safety plans with the US Food and Drug Administration upon request; write and implement food protocols to mitigate potential hazards and implement acceptable traceability and recall mechanisms.Other presenters at the consultation were Karen Jo Bennett, food safety consultant, Food Safety Systems Consulting Limited; Crisen Maharaj, manager ,Capacity Building Unit, ExporTT; Rachel Fefer, international policy analyst, US FDA and Michael Rogers, regional director, US FDA.