Codex – ‘an international instrument that contributes to the safety, quality and terms of international food trade’ … nutrition and food safety among Government’s priorities

Codex and food safety systems represent the high point of collaboration amongst Ministries, Ministers and Agencies’ is an important element in agricultural trade’ said Senator the Honourable Clarence Rambharat, Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries to stakeholders on Monday 11th September, 2017 at an event to present the Codex Procedural Manual and Codex Strategic Plan, the result of a Technical Cooperation Project aimed at ‘Strengthening the functioning of the national Codex structure in Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Lucia and Suriname’ at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad, Port of Spain.

The Agriculture Minister noted that ‘food safety systems cut across everything that we do; it is something that affects all of us’; calling attention to the body of work being handled by his Advisor on Food Safety. He urged that ‘in this period of austerity, notwithstanding the cuts and the challenges, we will continue to do our work in relation to food safety systems and that we continue to see it as a priority’. He closed with the words that ‘as a country we would see the introduction of robust, more modern and meaningful legislation and policy towards the development of proper food safety systems’.

As a Region, ‘Latin America and the Caribbean is the world’s largest food producer and exporter however at the same time we need to improve our levels of coordination as a Region to influence in the setting of international safety standards for food’ said His Excellency Fernando Schmidt, Ambassador of Chile to Trinidad and Tobago. He also shared that Codex is ‘an international instrument that contributes to the safety, quality and terms of international food trade. These Standards facilitate trade worldwide’. Further, His Excellency stated that ‘any country willing to diversify its economy through expanding its food export capacities should be interested in an active participation in the different activities of Codex’.

‘Codex gives its members a unique opportunity to influence standards’ were the words of Dr. Michel Leporati, CCLAC Chair.

Highlighting the importance of food and nutrition security, Chief Medical Officer at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Roshan Parasram said ‘nutrition and food safety are among the main priorities of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago [and] remains a high priority for the Ministry of Health. To achieve high standards of public health, it is paramount that various stakeholders work cohesively to ensure that the delivery and production of food in Trinidad and Tobago are of the highest standards’; further he encouraged all to ‘let food be your medicine and medicine be your food’.

All speakers noted that consumers today are increasingly aware that food safety is of crucial importance. Mr. Gregg Rawlins; IICA Representative in Trinidad welcomed all participants.

At this event, participants were presented with the general overview of the project “Strengthening the functioning of the national Codex structure in Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Lucia and Suriname”, introducing its activities and main outputs: The Codex Procedural Manual and Codex Strategic Plan. During the function copies of the manual were presented to the representatives of various organisations, including Veterinary Public Health; Public Health Inspectorate; Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards; Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI); Trinidad and Tobago Association of Nutritionists and Dieticians; Food and Drugs Division; Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers’ Association (TTMA); National School Dietary Services Limited; Supermarkets Association of Trinidad and Tobago; National Flour Mills Limited; Caribbean Fisheries Training and Development Institute (CFTDI); National Agricultural Marketing and Development Corporation (NAMDEVCO); Caribbean Poultry Association; University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT); Ministry of Trade and Industry; exporTT Limited.

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