First National Codex Committee stakeholders’ forum held- food safety prioritised

GINA, GUYANA, Friday, April 21, 2017

Dan Steurer, Environmental and Regulatory Advisor, Esso Exploration and Production Company

The First National Codex Committee (NCC) stakeholders’ forum was held last evening at De Impeccable Banquet Hall, Brickdam Georgetown with focus on ‘Food and Nutrition Security, Food Safety is the Key’, whih was the theme of the event.

Ambassador of Chile to Guyana, His Excellency Claudio Rojas Rachael and stakeholders from relevant agencies were in attendance.

The Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) which falls under the purview of the Ministry of Business in collaboration with the CODEX International Food Standards, the World Health Organisation (WHO)  the Pesticide and Toxic Chemical Board and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) hosted the forum.

The NCC which was resuscitated on March 5, 2017 is a body that is designed to advice the Government of Guyana on the implications of various food standards and food safety issues which have risen in the overall context by the work undertaken by the CODEX Alimentarius Commission.

H.E. Claudio Rojas Rachael, Ambassador, Chile Embassy in Guyana

The C o d e x   Al i m e n t a r i u s international food standards, guidelines and codes of practice contribute to the safety, quality and fairness of this international food trade.

Consumers can trust the safety and quality of the food products they buy, and importers can trust that the food they order will be in accordance with their specifications.

Maxine Parris- Aaron, Vice Chairperson of the NCC said that the forum is a timely one given the impending passage of the Food Control Bill, the dynamics of food safety globally, and the urgent need of the country to improve and increase its participation and the work of the CODEX Alimentarius Commission. She said the aim of the forum was to highlight some of the information that was shared and learned from CODEX meetings that were attended thus far.

Ambassador of Rojas Rachael expressed happiness with the relationship between Guyana and Chile and more so CARICOM. The Ambassador said that the agro processing sector in Latin America and the Caribbean faces a number of challenges.  The Ambassador stated that the way to resolve those challenges is having access to a food policy that takes into account the producers and consumers that will secure food safety in a good and solid manner.

Candelle Walcott- Bostwick, Executive Director, GNBS

Ambassador Rojas Rachael said that, “climate change is an important contributor that requires countries to adapt to productive cycles and production capacity.”   The Ambassador gave his assurance that his government will continue to work with Guyana and other CARICOM countries to improve relations in all areas.

Director of GNBS Candelle Walcott- Bostwick said that Guyana is currently working on improving export quantity, however she stated that local manufacturers need to recognise that if “ they do not implement the standards which provide confidence in the case of food safety, the international market will not want to take our products.”

Walcott- Bostwick emphasised the importance of the CODEX system, and highlighted that it will benefit the country tremendously. She said that with the standards that will be implemented in the respective sectors, the GNBS will ensure that the relevant persons are following all the rules.

Participants of the National CODEX Committee Stakeholders Forum

Presentations were also given by Andrea Mendonca, Technical Officer GNBS, Mark Pierre, Agricultural Health and Food Safety Specialist, Ministry of Agriculture, Suresh Amichand, Senior Inspector, Pesticide and Toxic Chemical Control Board, Grace Parris, Lecturer and Manager, Agro- processing Facility, Guyana School of Agriculture, and Anthony Ross, Quality Assurance Manager, Sterling among others.

Public concerns about food safety issues are often placing Codex at the centre of global debates. Biotechnology, pesticides, food additives and contaminants are some of the issues discussed in Codex meetings. Codex standards are based on the best available science assisted by independent international risk assessment bodies or ad-hoc consultations organised by FAO and WHO.

By: Gabreila Patram