Guyana to be on par with international food safety standards
DPI, Guyana, Monday, October 30, 2017
A Food and Drug Laboratory Complex is slated to be established at the University of Guyana’s (UG) Turkeyen Campus following a ground-breaking ceremony.
The new complex will lessen Guyana’s dependence on external laboratories to conduct analysis which has restricted access to some international markets. It will also allow for improved monitoring, regulation and compliance with international standards required to penetrate these markets.
Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence, this morning, explained with new export requirements for European markets, particularly for seafood products and the implementation of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the US is ensuring the safety of its food supply. This is being done by shifting the focus from responding to contamination to preventing it. Therefore, products which do not comply with the law, will be rejected.
“The International Arena is rapidly changing and Guyana does not want to remain obsolete. We must be competitive, we must be robust and be able to respond to challenges such as those soon to be presented”, Minister Lawrence explained.
“Discussions between the Government Analyst and Food and Drug Department (GA-FDD) and Faculty of Natural Sciences and Health Sciences, UG have been on-going since 2014, and have proven fruitful, Director of the GA-FDD”, Marlon Cole said.
The GA-FDD is the unit that facilities the analysis, licensing and certification of locally produced export commodities such as rice, sugar, rum, seafood, processed foods and pharmaceuticals. It is also responsible for ensuring the distribution, marketing and production of commodities (local and imported) meet the highest quality and safety standards.
“It is imperative that our international trade is not jeopardized”, Minister Lawrence emphasised. She noted that today’s event was a ‘timely and necessary’ one, because the present facility, which is housed in the IAST building, “falls short of international standards.”
Approximately $117M was allocated in the 2017 National Budget for the consultation, and construction of the lab. Cole said there is an ongoing conformity assessment and the long-awaited facility’s construction, will begin early next year.
The GA-FDD has been preparing the local agro-processing industry to meet the FSMA standards, through requirement training workshops for local manufactures and producers. This will allow the deaprtment to expand and move forward in the exportation industry.
Meanwhile Professor Ivelaw Griffith, Vice Chancellor and UG Principal observed that in building relations such as these, his vision of a research park is well underway.
By: Zanneel Williams