Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 27, 2016 (SKNIS): A wide spectrum of individuals from institutions across the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis is currently attending a two-day National Traceability Workshop in order to enhance their ability to track products from the farm to the shelf. The workshop, which runs from September 27-28, is coordinated by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and facilitated by the Institute of Food Technology (IFT).
Natasha Daniel, Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, delivered brief remarks on behalf of the Minister of Agriculture, the Honourable Eugene Hamilton. She clarified the definition of traceability.
“Traceability under the European Union (EU) means the ability to track any food, feed, food-producing animal or substance that will be used for consumption, through all stages of production, processing and distribution,” said Ms. Daniel. “It is vital that when national authorities or food businesses identify a risk they can trace it back to its source in order to swiftly isolate the problem and prevent contaminated products from reaching the consumers. Agriculture has moved to a new era where traceability and accountability are placed at the forefront of production. Primary producers, food business operators and other authorities in the public and private sector have to be accountable for the health and safety of consumers. It is with this backdrop that I speak to you on the importance of traceability through Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures.”
Ms. Daniel stated that food safety has become a growing concern for citizens globally including St. Kitts and Nevis.
“There was quite a bit of public discussion regarding a decision made by the Chief Medical Officer who recalled a particular product,” said the Assistant Secretary. “Based on a number of tests which were carried out, it was felt that the consumers could be at risk. The problem was swiftly isolated and traced and the contaminated product was prevented from reaching the consumers. Outbreaks of diseases in animals such as the Mad Cow disease and the Bird Flu, which can be transmitted to humans have spurred much attention and concern among consumers. The Mad Cow disease resulted in the reduction of beef sales and the closure of many businesses. Additionally, the presence of chemicals in feed and food that is above acceptable limits has the potential to threaten both the quality and safety of products.”
Andy Blanchette, Institutional Liaison to Agriculture, said that the workshop is timely, as production units on the international market found it necessary to recall products from their production line for a number of reasons.
“When I thought of this, initially, I said these things only happen in America and on the international scene, but it was just recently we had a situation here in St. Kitts and Nevis where we found ourselves recalling a particular product from the line of production,” said Mr. Blanchette. “So, [I realize] that it is not only in the international area you find these things happening but right across in our backyard. We had a situation where had it not been for the vigilance of the Bureau of Standards, we could have found ourselves faced with serious problems.
He encouraged participants to use the workshop as a tool to assist them in the enhancement of their productivity in their respective area of professionalism.
At the end of the two days learning experience, the Ministry of Agriculture hopes that individuals will gain a competitive advantage, so as to improve upon their traceability system. It is also hoped that at the end of the workshop that best practices associated with traceability will be applied, while at the same time recognizing efficiencies and gaining market share by enhancing their traceability system.