Efforts are intensifying within CARICOM to get more laboratories with links to food chains accredited.
This announcement came from the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality (CROSQ) today (June 9th), as the globe celebrates World Accreditation Day.
The efforts, funded by many donor agencies are bringing together the skills of the region, that are available through the CROSQ Network, to help laboratories put themselves in a position to gain international accreditation.
CEO of CROSQ, Mr. Deryck Omar stressed that, “While quality infrastructure comprised the systems and institutions that contributed to strengthening the quality of good and services, the role and importance of accreditation is of particular importance now as it’s an absolutely necessary tool to help ensure the accuracy and reliability of the testing results in the food chain.
He further elaborated: “Among the COVID19 and post-COVID19 issues we are and will be seeing in relation to food security in the region, are safety, hygiene, contaminants, quality and biosecurity, to name a few, and accredited lab testing in these areas will help to bring more trust and confidence in results, as well as international acceptability.
“For us in quality, the response has to involve food chain controls, checks and balances, traceability, guidelines and standards, monitoring, verification of quality and accredited processes from farm to fork; and for us in the region especially, this has to mean established bodies partnering in expertise and technical knowledge and pooling and sharing our resources to get through this period,” the CROSQ CEO said.
CROSQ’s Technical Officer, Accreditation and Conformity Assessment, Mr. Stephen Farquharson underscored the importance of quality partnerships, especially among professionals and agencies, toward accrediting the laboratories, inspection and certification bodies which deal with conformity assessment in the region, to aid with food safety and security.
“The current [COVID19] environment requires that accreditation must assist conformity assessment bodies (CABs) to be prepared for unfortunate events. This ensures that all aspects of the food value chain can be competently monitored, assessed for rigor and accountability, making sure that they are operating with high integrity, competence and standards even in abnormal conditions of production.
“Here, accreditation leads to trust by the customer and /or consumer, and in this CARICOM region, we are committed to the production and distribution of safe food with the help of our regionally accredited labs, inspection and certification bodies,” he stated in his video message to the region.
Mr. Farquharson thanked donors such as the European Union, and the Caribbean Development Bank, among others, who have been funding such work.
“If anything, this COVID19 pandemic has taught us that it is not enough to just have a value chain that includes quality parameters and quality systems, but to raise the bar in building resilience, trust and dynamism in the quality infrastructure we create… These interventions have assisted and are assisting food producers and suppliers to be more competitive in the global market but more importantly, ensure the farm to fork process is safe and consumption ready,” he said.