Oficina Regional de la FAO para América Latina y el Caribe

St. Lucia Food Safety Workshop

Castries, St Lucia.
17-10-17 - 18-10-17


The importance of effective food safety systems in ensuring food safety in the Caribbean

Over the past decade there has been a dedicated drive across the Caribbean region to improve the food safety systems and programmes that exist in the countries.  This has included efforts by some countries to modernize their food safety policy and regulatory frameworks with the assistance of regional and international development partners. The CARICOM Secretariat and CAHFSA have initiated and led some of these regional initiatives which seek to harmonize the food safety regulatory framework and programmes across the CARICOM Member States.

CAHFSA is an intergovernmental organization established by the Heads of States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to assist member states to meet their obligations under the WTO/SPS Agreement and by extension the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, Articles 57 and 74. It has as its goal the establishment of an effective and efficient Regional SPS regime. The Agency is involved in the harmonization of the relevant agricultural health and food safety laws and administrative practices required by the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas and the provision of assistance to Member States in that regard. As part of the efforts to boost regional and international trade, the Agency has as its priorities that of assisting member states in the development and implementation of technical measures and SPS protocols which are internationally acceptable to conduct agricultural trade and to eliminate the use of SPS and other non-tariff measures as deterrents to agricultural trade.  

Across members, many private sector stakeholders have taken steps to improve their food processing facilities and implement food safety control programmes to ensure compliance with international food safety standards.  In addition, farmers and food producers in many countries have been trained in food safety concepts and Good Agriculture Practices in order to minimize on-farm food safety risks.

Nevertheless, there is much to be done by multiple stakeholders to bring food safety systems in the Caribbean up to the required international standards. Gaps, deficiencies and weaknesses in the implementation of food safety systems and programmes often come to the forefront, evidenced by reports of food safety related incidents (e.g. outbreaks or cases of food borne diseases) or  audits and inspections when a country, or a food establishment, wishes to enter the export market for products such as meat and poultry.

In the area of meat hygiene there is great variability in the national food safety systems and programmes that exist across the region. The food safety systems across the meat value chains are often weak with little regulatory control and government oversight along the entire chain in some countries.  Across the region, slaughterhouse infrastructure needs to be upgraded and improved while meat processing plants, meat markets, meat-shops, and meat storage facilities also must be improved in order to protect and safeguard the health of consumers. Proper animal transportation systems must be implemented both from a food safety and an animal welfare standpoint. Trained meat inspectors and auditors are also required, in sufficient numbers, to ensure compliance with food safety regulations and protocols and to detect breaches which may occur.

In the area of Antimicrobial Resistance, there is a need to examine the use of antimicrobials in the production process of animals in the region in general, and more specifically in poultry production and pork systems. Included in this initiative should be the collection of data on antimicrobial residues in meat and poultry products and the use of antibiotics in food producing animals. To facilitate this data collection an assessment and rationalization of the laboratory capabilities throughout the region needs to be conducted within the context of the National Strategic Plan for Antimicrobial Resistance being developed by the countries in the region.

The Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) and the identified food safety needs in the Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) Region

The Codex Alimentarius Commission was established in 1963 by FAO and WHO with the mandate to develop international food safety and quality standards in order to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in the food trade. Currently, according to the CODEX website the CAC has 188 members, 187 member countries and one member Organization. The FAO/WHO Regional Coordinating Committee for the Latin American and the Caribbean Region(CCLAC)has 33 Members and it is currently chaired by Chile.

During last year´s CCLAC meeting, the member countries identified several critical and emerging issues in food safety for the region. Two of these issues, regulatory landscape and Antimicrobial Resistance, were the topics ranked 1st and 2nd, respectively.  This workshop intends to address these two issues of importance to the Caribbean countries related to the meat sector.

Switzerland´s commitment to enhancing the participation of developing countries (DC) in Codex

Switzerland has a long-standing commitment to enhancing the participation of DCs in Codex work through the organization of capacity building activities, including Codex training workshops as well as through the Swiss financial contributions to the important initiative of the Codex Trust Fund (CTF) and the CTF-2 aimed at enhancing the effective participation of DC in Codex work. Switzerland also contributed to the development of the Codex Training Manual (2006) which is an excellent training tool for all those who are new to the work of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.

Joint FAO/Switzerland Caribbean Food Safety Capacity Building Workshop on Foods of Animal Origin

The Joint FAO/Switzerland Caribbean Food Safety Capacity Building Workshop will be a two-day event and it will take place in Castries, St. Lucia from 17-18 October, 2017. The workshop is organized by FAO and Switzerland in close collaboration with CAHFSA, the Ministry of Agriculture of the host country, WHO, and the Codex Secretariat.


The main objective of the workshop is to heighten and increase awareness for food safety particularly in the meat sector (beef, pork, lamb, poultry) with the use of Codex food safety standards, and have an open discussion on issues of antimicrobial use and antimicrobial resistance within this sector.

Secondary objectives will be to a) draft a baseline for meat hygiene assessment of member states and b) provide guidelines for the development of a food safety surveillance system in the meat sector for the region. Participants will also get an understanding of CODEX food safety standards and their application, specifically as they relate to meat hygiene.

The recently drafted CARICOM model Food Safety Bill will be highlighted as an example of modern primary food safety legislation and will be the backbone for initial steps toward the design and implementation of a risk based meat inspection system.

The target audience will be key government officials with responsibility for food safety, in particular meat hygiene, in the Caribbean region.


ll 15 countries of the Caribbean region will be officially invited to participate in the Joint FAO/Switzerland Workshop.  Financial support will be provided to enable the participation of one or two participants per country and the travel arrangements will be made by the FAO Regional Office. The names of the designated participants will be provided to the FAO Regional Office in response to the official invitation by the national authorities.  In the event that any member country wishes to send additional participants, these must be supported by that particular country´s national resources. Public health and veterinary officials from the following CARICOM countries will be invited to participate in the workshop:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Jamaica
  • Bahamas
  • Montserrat
  • Barbados
  • Saint Lucia
  • Belize
  • St Kitts and Nevis
  • Dominica
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Grenada
  • Suriname
  • Guyana
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Haiti

The resource persons will be from CAHFSA, FAO, IICA, PAHO, Grenada, and the host country.


Participants will have the opportunity to gain an understanding of CODEX Food Safety standards and recommendations relating to meat hygiene. The methodology will include: 

  • Overview of the current status of the food safety and meat inspection systems and programmes in each country
  • Lectures and formal presentations by experts in food safety and meat hygiene
  • Group discussions to arrive at recommendations for meat hygiene interventions needed at the regional and national levels
  • Presentation of an overview of Draft CARICOM Harmonized Model Food Safety Bill and Regulations
  • Discussion on strategies and recommendations for changing traditional ways of providing fresh meat to the consumer


  • Recommendations to improve the food safety institutional framework in the Caribbean specifically for the meat sector.     
  • A deeper understanding of CODEX Standards related to meat hygiene.
  • Improved capacity to design meat hygiene programmes at the national and regional levels.
  • Improved and enhanced understanding of the components of a modern meat hygiene system that operates from farm to fork.
  • Improved awareness and understanding of antimicrobial resistance and its impact on food safety.