Business

Bag juice processors to get food safety training

But less than a fourth of total membership so far signed up

By Alicia Roache Sunday Finance reporter roachea@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, February 06, 2011    

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Local bag juice processors are getting a unique opportunity to learn the best practices involved in the manufacturing of their products from the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) but to date, less than 10 of the 48 bag juice processors identified by the BSJ have signed up to be included in the programme.

This was revealed last week by the BSJ, which in response to Sunday Finance queries noted the need for the food processors to develop and practice food safety. The BSJ is offering the 'Elements of Food Safety for Bag Juice Processors', a half day training programme in Kingston on Wednesday at a cost of $2,500.

Julia Bonner Douett, director, standards at the BSJ said the training had become necessary because of the growing consumption of the drink, which she described as a major component in the diet of most children in school, and the growth of the industry.

"Given the rising importance of this drink and the potential serious implications for health and nutrition (food hygiene, foods safety and nutritional intake) the Bureau of Standards has initiated the development of a Standard for Bag Juice. The standard will delineate areas such as ingredients listing: such as those for flavours, food safety requirements- for example the type of food colourings and recommended levels for additives to be used in the product- labeling and batch code information," Douett said. She said the Bag Juice industry is a fast growing one which requires reinforcement of the principles relating to Food Safety.

The training is offered to sanitation specialists and line staff involved in the process of bag juice manufacturing. However, Janet Rankine Henry, training co-ordinator said the BSJ is hopeful that as many as 25 of the processors would attend the seminar.

"To date we have less than 10 processors registered, however the closing date for this training will be on February 7, 2011. Based on experience there is normally a greater response closer to the dead line," Rankine-Henry said.

However Douett warned that once the standards are developed they must be adhered by all processors, even those who did not attend the seminars. She said depending on the level of response to the one planned, other training sessions will be arranged. "Presently, there are persons who are not fully informed and as this is an area that impacts on health and safety, the BSJ is facilitating the process and encouraging persons to get in the know. Once the standard is completed the requirements will become mandatory," Douett said. The BSJ is also encouraging interested persons to sit in or become members of the technical committee that develops these standards.

Rankine-Henry added that the BSJ offers various types of management system and food safety related training courses for all sectors. However, she would not disclose whether the adherence to food safety requirements was a problem among the processors in the bag juice sector.

"The Training Course is designed to provide food safety information which will empower processors to adhere to the best practice principles required to maintain health and safety in Jamaica," Rankine-Henry said, adding that the BSJ develops training programmes based on the recognised needs and demands for particular training for industries or processors. In this case, the ultimate objective is to equip the processors with the basic training in the processing of bag juice to ensure consumer protection.

Other training programmes offered by the BSJ include 'Good Manufacturing Practices' for executives and senior managers, 'Block Making Seminar' for owners and workers in block factories, 'Documentation and Process Mapping' for executives and senior managers, and 'HACCP Awareness and Internal Audit' sessions for HACCP co-ordinators and sanitation specialists. BSJ courses run January to March 2011 in Kingston, Montego Bay, May Pen and Ocho Rios and range in cost from $2,500 to $30,000.

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