Caribbean meat safety workshop underway

Public Health and veterinary officials from fifteen Caricom countries are receiving food safety training at the Joint FAO/Switzerland Caribbean Food Safety Capacity Building Workshop on Foods of Animal Origin which is underway at the CoCo Palm Resort in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia.

According to a press release from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the workshop is organized by FAO and the Government of Switzerland, in close collaboration with the Caribbean Agricultural Health and Food Safety Agency (CAHFSA), the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Co-operatives of St. Lucia and the World Health Organisation.

“Food safety begins with robust food laws and regulations which must be implemented by all stakeholders in the food chain and enforced rigorously and effectively by the control authorities. Codex standards can be applied at the international, regional and national levels in order to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in the food trade,” Mrs. Awilo Ochieng Pernet, former Chairperson of the CAC, was quoted in the release, as saying.

The training at the two-day workshop, according to the FAO release, will emphasise the Codex principles of meat hygiene, developed by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), which cover hygiene provisions for raw meat, meat preparations and manufactured meat, from the time of live animal production up to the point of retail sale. Participants will also have an open discussion on issues related to the impact of antimicrobial drugs on food safety, as well as resistance to antimicrobials within the sector.

“…FAO embraces the One Health approach to reduce/minimise/contain Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) under the four pillars of the FAO Action Plan on AMR for the food and agriculture sector: awareness, evidence, governance, and best practices,” Marisa Caipo, FAO Food safety and Quality Officer and Regional Focal Point on AMR, was quoted as saying, in the FAO release.

During last year’s FAO/WHO Coordinating Committee for Latin America and Caribbean, according to the FAO statement, participants identified several critical and emerging issues in food safety for the region, prioritizing regulatory landscape and AMR, for discussion. Other workshop objectives include a) drafting a baseline for a meat hygiene assessment of member states: b) providing guidelines for the development of a food safety surveillance system in the meat sector for the region; and, c) improved and enhanced understanding of the components of a modern meat hygiene system that operates from farm to fork.

Participants are also expected to gain a greater understanding of Codex food safety standards and their application, according to the FAO release. The Codex Alimentarius, or Food Code, is a collection of standards, guidelines and codes of practice developed, maintained and promoted by the CAC, which was established in 1963 by FAO and WHO. Its mandate is to develop international food safety and quality standards to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in the food trade.

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