Jamaica’s leading fish processing company, Rainforest Seafoods, is one of very few fish processing companies in the Caribbean to have achieved HACCP certification. They have now been joined by another Caribbean-based fish processing entity, Shorelinez Inc in Barbados.
HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points. Administered by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), HACCP is a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical and physical hazards, from raw material production, procurement and handling through to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product.
The HACCP system focuses on identifying and preventing hazards that could cause food-borne illnesses, rather than relying on spot-checks of manufacturing processes of finished seafood products. The objective is to increase the margin of safety for consumers and reduce seafood-related illnesses to the lowest possible levels.
Both Shorelinez and Rainforest Seafoods were guided through the compliance process by Technological Solution Ltd (TSL), based in Jamaica. The company was instrumental in introducing HACCP to many industries in the region during the 1990s, and now offers training in a number of market-driven standards in food quality and safety, including HACCP.
TSL also provides guidance in trade-related technical requirements and specialises in food safety, quality assurance, auditing, production systems design and implementation, and provides an extensive range of analytical services in the Caribbean, inclusive of shelf life analysis and consumer/product complaint evaluation. It is the only such company in the region that has HACCP systems implemented under its guidance, approved by the regulatory authorities in the United States and European Union, thereby facilitating exports to these markets.
Rainforest, headquartered in Jamaica with operations in St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados and Belize, is the Caribbean’s largest supplier of premium-quality seafood.
The company has HACCP, FDA and European Union (EU) approved processing and distribution centres in Kingston and Montego Bay. Its main 30,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art processing plant in Kingston is both EU and FDA -certified as well as HACCP-approved, with strong brand recognition throughout the Caribbean, it also exports to the international market.
TSL’s managing director, Dr André Gordon, notes that HACCP is universally accepted as the most cost-effective method of preventing food contamination from chemical, microbiological and physical hazards.
“The HACCP Seafood programme has dramatically increased the frequency of government inspections,” he stated. “Before the introduction of the programme, FDA conducted seafood processor inspections only took place about once every four years. After the implementation of the programme in 1997, the frequency of inspections increased annually.”
HACCP is recognised in the food industry as an effective and rational means of assuring food safety from harvest to consumption. Preventing problems from occurring is the primary goal of a HACCP system. It has basic principles which are employed in the development of HACCP plans that meet stated goals. Under such systems, if a deviation occurs which points to loss of control, appropriate steps are taken to re-establish control in a timely manner to assure that potentially hazardous products do not reach the consumer.
Although very few fish processing companies in the Caribbean have achieved HACCP Certification, the awarding of the certification to Rainforest Seafoods and Shorelinez indicates that progress is being made.
Source: Jamaica Observer