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.
May 20, 2020, Bridgetown, BARBADOS – Regional metrologists (measurement experts), as well as their international counterparts, are today celebrating World Metrology Day (May 20th) by recognising the increasing importance their work will have to play in the current climate and the future economic recovery.
The CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality (CROSQ) recognised the day by acknowledging the work of metrologists in the region, as many of our countries continue to grapple with the COVID19 pandemic.
CEO, Mr. Deryck Omar stated that many National Standards Bodies which comprise the CROSQ Network have been offering their measurement services and trying to find ways to support essential services on the frontline, as well as the business community, many of which are now phasing back into operation across the region.
He said this was one of the ways that quality services remained very relevant at this time and lauded the regions NSBs for their management in these times of crisis.
The CEO stated: “CROSQ and its constituent NSBs have been reminding resource providers and government officials that in such pandemic situations, it is important to continue to treat quality infrastructure as a growing asset and resist the temptation of disinvestments. This is because a robust and evolving quality infrastructure will help to:
- avoid costly private sector quality mistakes when said companies can least afford it;
- protect consumers health and safety when individually, consumers are least able to help themselves;
- protect consumers from substandard (and often lower priced) products and services; and,
- protect the environment from compromises.”
CROSQ Technical Officer for Metrology, Mr. David Tomlinson underscored the importance of the work being done, as well as that which is still developing, as he delivered the video address to mark the highly specialised day of significance.
He hailed the efforts of leaders across the region in attempting to keep populations safe, as well as those who have worked tirelessly on the frontlines in healthcare, retail and distribution to keep people healthy.
“In addition to those on the frontline, I must applaud my colleagues in the metrology community who have been doing their part to battle Covid-19. Some of you have been working assiduously throughout the lockdowns to support the testing laboratories and clinical services with calibration of their measurement devices such as clinical thermometers and dosage devices to ensure persons are diagnosed and treated properly. Others of you have been working to design and support the manufacture of critical medical devices such as respirators and we have seen where our colleagues in the standards development community have been making key related standard specifications such as those for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) available for free,” he said in the message to mark the occasion.
Recognising the theme of the day, “Measurements for Global Trade”, Mr. Tomlinson expressed the anticipation that measurement for trading will become a critical component of getting economies back up and running in the second half of 2020.
“Despite all the figurative and literal clouds on the horizon, Covid-19 has shown us that mankind can quickly harmonise and mobilise systems towards a common objective. The international measurement system has been long established and harmonized but there is still much work to be done to mobilise these systems in a real way in developing economies especially Small Island Developing States such as in the Caribbean and the Pacific. Accurate measurements are critical for domestic and international trade particularly within global value chains, and while we have made significant progress as a region, we still have a lot of work to do,” he opined.
But he promised, the efforts were not beyond the capabilities that exist in CARICOM or among the region’s metrologists. CROSQ, under the European Union-funded 11th European Development Fund (EDF) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Programme, will seek to strengthen the measurement infrastructure of the region through accreditation of two measurement labs, and provision of technical assistance to build capacity of four others.
“As we now begin to shift our focus towards economic recovery, our National Metrology Institutes and the entire Regional Quality Infrastructure will have to play their part in re-energizing trade. The CROSQ Secretariat will continue to play our part in developing a harmonized national and regional metrology infrastructure that is traceable to the international community. It is not beyond our abilities,” he said.
For more information, please contact,
Ms Latoya Burnham – Technical Officer, Quality Promotions - CROSQ
The Caribbean Region’s latest quality-related project is looking to take as much advantage of the European Union-CARIFORUM Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
The newest project, under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) EPA Programme’s Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Component, is aiming to find and close the existing quality gaps in key sectors, value chains and organisations; bring greater awareness to the region about quality, and the strengthening of regional quality institutions. It is being managed by the German National Metrology Institute and implemented in the region by CROSQ and the Dominican Republic’s quality institution, INDOCAL.
In addressing his hopes for the 11th EDF EPA TBT, Head of Cooperation with the European Union Delegation to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, the OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM, Mr. Luis Maia noted that despite the 10 year existence of the EPA in the region, there were still gaps to fill.
“That we have not achieved the EPA’s full potential is more than evident, but the focus should be on the why, the how, and the when. Taking responsibility, and then corrective action, is the only way to address the necessary, but not always easy steps that a trade agreement requires,” he stated.
Mr. Maia assured those gathered in Barbados for the launch that the EU wanted the EPA to work for the Caribbean and were putting in efforts towards that end.
His comments came moments before Barbados’ Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Dr. Jerome Walcott made similar observances about the challenges of the EPA and its benefits for regional trade.
Dr. Walcott posited that he was at pains to note the lack of expected gains for the region as had originally been envisaged from the signing of the EPA. There was however no single cause, he quickly noted, but a plethora of issues stemming from these developing countries size, vulnerability and other capacity constraints.
Nevertheless, he praised the successful results of the 10th EDF CRIP EPA TBT Programme which came to a close in 2018, for “the progress made towards creating a modern quality infrastructure, according to internationally recognise principles, for the region.”
He singled out the development and operationalisation of regional frameworks for the various quality areas, including standardisation, metrology, conformity assessment and accreditation; as well as the harmonisation of standards and procedures, and the development of capacities of national bureaux of standards across the region.
“The world is moving ahead and with continued pressure from consumers, technical barriers to trade will continue to emerge. We must persevere. We must think outside the box. In order to do so, however, we must take on board the concerns of our consumers and realise the importance of competition,” he stated.
CEO of CROSQ, Mr. Deryck Omar highlighted that the 11th EDF-EPA TBT Programme had set out to accomplish a number of targets towards making the region more competitive. Among these:
- The development of standards
- Interventions in key value chains
- Accreditation and certification scheme
- Upgrading and accreditation of laboratories and other quality institutions, and
- Education of the general public and business sectors.
The first step towards standardization within the Suriname coconut sector is a fact!
Based on its mandate laid down in SB 2006 no. 30 Article 4, paragraph 1, the Final Draft National Standard “Coconut Oil Specifications” was developed by the Surinamese Standards Bureau (SSB) and was therefore adopted as the National Standard.
As the agency responsible for standards in Suriname, the SSB has proudly announced the National Standard "Coconut Oil - Specifications" as of October 31, 2019.
Stakeholders from the sector who have worked on this standard included, Reinier Taus & Mrs. Gitana Plak from ECTAD-Suriname; Mr. Mohamed S. Khodabaks & Mr. Roel Ramautar from the Ministry of Agriculture; Livestock and Fisheries (LVV); Ms. Brenda van Daal & Ms. Melisa Part of the Marron Women Network; Mr. Rick Ong A Kwie from Principalis Consultancy; Ms. Drucenda Faerber from Shalom N.V.; Ms. Florence Giddings & Ms. Bionella Benali from Consumer Circle; Ms. Roshni Sewradj from Public Health Care Office; Ms. Chermine Burleson from DC South-East Wanica; Mr. Ricardo Vriesde & Ms. Dulci Faerber-Wielzen from DC Coronie; Ms. Joyce Toelsie from DC Nickerie & Mr. Tanwir Hassankhan as Technical Secretary on behalf of the Surinamese Standards Bureau.
This National Standard is a modified adoption of the Regional Standard, Coconut Oil - Specification of the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality (CROSQ). The standard specifies the requirements and the sampling and testing methods for coconut oil, which must be followed to be considered safe and suitable for human consumption and which can also be used for domestic and commercial purposes.
The Technical Commission that has worked on the development of this Standard will now act as a National Mirror Commission that will participate in the Revision of the Regional Standards for Coconut Water from CROSQ, after which these Regional Standards will be adopted as National Standards.
Through this, the SSB tries to take the first step towards standardization within the coconut sector, with the aim of contributing to the further growth and strengthening of the coconut sector in Suriname.
For more information, please contact the Surinamese Standards Bureau (SSB).
(This is a release of the Suriname Standards Bureau)
As the world celebrates the standards that enable seamless video production and sharing, on World Standards Day, October 14, 2019, the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), will likewise be acknowledging these breakthroughs for the Caribbean with the launch of a digital promotional campaign.
The campaign, part of the Caribbean Development Bank-funded project “Strengthening of the Regional Quality Infrastructure”, is set to be launched using social media and online platforms of CROSQ, as well as the National Standards Bodies (NSBs) of Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Guyana, Saint Lucia and Suriname. Those five countries have been part of the CDB project being implemented by CROSQ.
As part of the project, the Member States of Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and Suriname are on the path to having National Quality Policies (NQPs) by the end of the year, while Saint Lucia and Suriname have laboratories that are being assisted with accreditation within the same period. Through other initiatives, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia and Dominica are also in the process of developing NQPs.
CROSQ Project Coordinator, Mr. Terry Hutchinson explained that the project has been very fast-paced with great participation, led by the NSBs in each country, towards finalising the policies that will guide the development of quality services and procedures.
“The critical thing about the development of an NQP, is that there has to be complete involvement of all sectors of society – from government to private sector and civil society because in each case these bodies and institutions are the ones that will have to guarantee the necessary steps are put in place to implement the directives created. It is intended that each policy will be a living document that will help develop countries’ trading abilities and ultimately their sustainability on a national, regional and international stage.
“It is a fact now in the international community that investment into developing all the systems of quality by donors is increasingly dependent on a country’s ability to prove that it has a sustainable plan for how it is developing its internal infrastructure in this regard. So countries in CARICOM that have NQPs stand a much greater chance of not only knowing how they want to plan their own development but in articulating what kinds of assistance they will need to do so,” said Mr. Hutchinson.
CROSQ Technical Officer – Communication and Information, Ms. Latoya Burnham said this is why the campaign was so important. She noted that the quality promotional materials being released will be relevant and accessible to all the standards and quality institutions in CARICOM.
“What we want to do, beginning on World Standards Day is to acknowledge the role video and all technology plays in our development of quality at the national and regional level. So this campaign will utilise digital platforms and animation to underscore why an NQP and national involvement in its development and implementation is so critical. The campaign will also explain to our CARICOM populace why they need to demand quality products and services in everyday life and especially in consumption.
“We’ve also looked at the two main developing areas of production – agriculture and tourism, and developed a pack of tools, information really, that can help processors and stakeholders in those two industries understand better how they can ensure their businesses and practices are driven by quality. We are very aware that our region needs trade to be sustainable, so we are trying to prepare our industries and sectors, beginning with these two, to be more competitive within the spheres where they operate,” she added.
The theme of World Standards Day 2019 is “Video Standards Create a Global Stage”, and around the world, including within the Caribbean, quality-based organisations like National Standards Bureaux of CARICOM will be marking the day with activities aimed at creating awareness of the development and use standards in general.
The digital awareness campaign being kicked off by CROSQ will be visible on the organisation’s websites: crosq.org and qfactor.crosq.org; Twitter: @crosqcaricom; Facebook – @crosq.caricom, as well as on the popular business platform LinkedIn and video platform, YouTube. The Antigua and Barbuda Bureau of Standards; the Grenada Bureau of Standards, the Guyana National Bureau of Standards; the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards and the Suriname Standards Bureau will also be posting information on their websites and social media. The public is encouraged to tune in and follow for a clearer understanding of how quality can impact their lives for the better.
The CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards & Quality (CROSQ) has made yet another stride in its efforts to bring international attention to the work of the region in standards and quality services development.
As part of its strategic objective to further support of Member States’ aspirations, develop deeper relations with international and other regional organisations, CROSQ has developed and signed a Collaboration & License Agreement with Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL). This agreement was signed at the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) General Assembly in South Africa on 16 September 2019.
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing its mission through the discovery and application of scientific knowledge. The organisation conducts rigorous independent research and analyses safety data, convenes experts worldwide to address risks, shares knowledge through education and public outreach initiatives, and develops standards to guide safe, sustainable commercialisation of evolving technologies.
UL devotes resources towards research, education and outreach in five key areas of concentration and together their work strives to improve standards of quality worldwide. These keys areas are as follows:
- Battery Safety
- Chemical Safety
- Data Science
- Electrical product safety
- Fire Safety
This collaboration between CROSQ and UL will provide a framework to:
- Promote communication between the two organizations;
- Avoid duplication of work efforts where possible;
- Increase knowledge of each other’s standards development activities;
- Utilize the resources of UL to strengthen the CARICOM Regional standards system; and
- Allow for the acceptance and use of UL Standards in CARICOM where determined to be appropriate by CROSQ and its network of National Standards Bureaux.
In furtherance of this, both parties will arrange for semi-annual discussions on the status of activities associated with this agreement.
Against this background and in an effort to commence implementation of the provisions set out in the UL/CROSQ Collaboration and Licensing Agreement, a workshop will be held for the CROSQ Council members on the margins of the 35th Meeting of the CROSQ Council on 1 October 2019 on the premises of the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards commencing at 8:30 am.
The objectives of this workshop are to:
- create better understanding between our two organizations;
- provide an overview of UL, its standards development process and system;
- overview UL’s catalogue of standards, areas of focus;
- conduct a needs analysis of CROSQ and members; and
- identify possible further areas of collaboration based on the Member States’ needs, including cascading the agreement to the national level in the form of mirror agreements.