KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Government is moving to strengthen the legislative framework governing food safety in Jamaica through rationalization of existing laws and promulgating modern legislation in keeping with international standards.
This was disclosed by Director of Veterinary Public Health in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr. Linette Peters, who was speaking recently during a Think Tank hosted by the Jamaica Information Service (JIS).
She said that currently, there are more than 20 pieces of legislation dealing with food safety, which are administered by several ministries and agencies, noting that there are many gaps, overlaps and weaknesses.
“The coordination of food safety is fragmented and because of the fragmented nature of the regulatory function, there is much overlapping and even gaps in the country’s food-safety regulatory system,” she said.
Dr. Peters told JIS News that a number of legislative measures are being updated, among them the Meat Inspection Regulations and the Butchers Regulations, which should be ready during the current financial year.
“We already have the Poultry Inspection Regulations, and these are important, not only to get better compliance and to guide our inspections but also to meet international standards, so that we can trade with other countries in food items,” she pointed out.
She said that the Government also intends to review and institute harsher penalties for non-compliance with legislation.
Peters noted that food safety is a shared responsibility involving the government, producers and consumers.
“Everyone has a role to play from the farm to the table to ensure that the food we consume is safe and healthy, thereby reducing the burden of food-borne illnesses” she contended, adding that focusing on food-safety programs that protect the consumer is not optional but, rather, is key to survival.
The country will observe World Food Safety Day on Monday under the theme ‘Safe Food Now for a Healthy Jamaica’.