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Guyana celebrated World Food Safety Day


The National Codex Committee (NCC) in Guyana coordinated, with support from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and funding from the Codex Trust Fund, several activities in keeping with the theme of World Food Safety Day 2022 – Safer food, better health.

On June 07 2022, the Guyana Food Safety Authority (GFSA) officially launched World Food Safety Day in Guyana. The ceremony was hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) and collaborated with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the National Codex Committee (NCC). Ms. Natasha Beerjit-Deonarine, Monitoring and Evaluation Director at the MoA, represented the Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha, M.P at the ceremony dedicated to World Food Safety Day 2022.

The Hon. Minister’s message to the nation emphasized that annually, about 600 million people around the world become ill because of the food they consume. The resulting illness is called foodborne disease and is caused by dangerous microorganisms and or toxic chemicals. Minister Mustapha in his message stated that as the Government of Guyana continues to invest in the development of the Agriculture Sector to ensure the availability of wholesome foods from farm to fork, it is the Guyana Food Safety Authority’s mandate to educate the nation’s children about the harm unsafe food preparation and consumption can have on their health.

Additionally, the message also stated that “food safety and quality are of paramount importance to Guyana and that the theme for World Food Safety Day, 2022 “Safer food, better health, as simple as it sounds, is indeed apt, as it is a profound intent to foster comprehensive agro-food systems. Importantly, a system that is characterized by food that is good, safe, wholesome, and nutritious is necessary for everyone to be safe and healthy.”

Another highlight of the Hon. Minister of Agriculture – Zulfikar Mustapha message stated that “Our national policies are aligned with the CARICOM Vision 25 by 2025. Consequently, Guyana is playing a lead role in agriculture in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) since one of our major objectives is reducing the currently high percentage of imported food bill and being a major regional exporter of food.

The National Codex Committee as the main coordinator of the World Food Safety Day (WFSD) activities provided a summary of the hosted events below:

The Guyana National Bureau of Standards - (GNBS)

GNBS, Guyana’s premier institution for standards and quality has served as Guyana’s Codex Contact Point (CCP) since 1985. It facilitates and coordinates the meetings and activities of the National Codex Committee (NCC). The GNBS, through the Business Development Department, conducted a two-day Food Safety Training in collaboration with the Guyana Food Safety Authority (GFSA) on June 09-10. This training targeted building the capacity of Food Handlers, Regulators, Food Business Operators, and consumers on food safety best practices. During the month of June, the GNBS created and shared several graphics and posts on social media to promote national standards and training programmes on Food Safety with stakeholders. Additionally, the agency’s Corporate Communications Department prepared and published a newspaper article on Food Safety (Kaieteur Newspapers, June 19).

Ministry of Agriculture |Guyana Food Safety Authority, La Bonne Intention:

The Guyana Food Safety Authority (GFSA) in its observance of World Food Safety Day 2022 facilitated interactive educational programmes with students at various secondary schools along the East Bank Demerara and West Coast/Bank Demerara on June 9, 2022.

GFSA donated farming and food preparation materials to the Agriculture and Home Economics departments of the targeted schools as well as the Leonora and Zeeburg Secondary Schools. Participating students were informed about the Five Keys to Safer Food and encouraged to share their newly acquired knowledge with their family members and friends.

A Food Safety Market Outreach was also conducted with vendors at the Bourda and Stabroek markets in Georgetown on 11 June 2022.

GFSA then culminated its World Food Safety Day 2022 activities with an inaugural Inter School Debating Competition at the National Library under the moot, "The health of a nation is heavily dependent on safe production practices." The competition was hosted in collaboration with the National Codex Committee and the Ministry of Education. The moot was proposed by the Friendship Secondary School and opposed by the Rosignol Secondary School. The winner of the debating competition was the Rosignol Secondary School emerging with 92.3 points and the best debater was, Ms Jaliza Jhingoree. Trophies were presented to the winner, the best debater, and Friendship Secondary School as the runner-up. Tokens were also presented to all participants.

The Government Analyst Food and Drug Department – (GA-FDD)

The GA-FDD is mandated to ensure that safe food is distributed to all consumers thereby protecting their health and wellbeing. As part of the WFSD celebration, the GA-FDD facilitated outreach programmes in schools, food safety training of manufacturers, street food vendors and food regulators. The department also collaborated with the NCC and PAHO/WHO in the broadcast of radio quizzes on food safety on 06 and 07 June 2022 and the mini expo on Main Street, Georgetown. The GA-FDD hosted a special National Food Safety and Control Committee meeting where food regulators joined in person or virtually to discuss the future work of the committee with a view to enhancing food safety awareness and strengthening the use of Codex standards across Guyana.

The Veterinary Public Health Unit (VPHU) - Ministry of Health

 The VPHU, a member of the NCC, sought to reach a wide audience through a broadcast on the Guyana Today Show and the Big People Radio Show which have wide viewership across Guyana. Representatives from the VPHU discussed their responsibilities in carrying out the department’s mandate of ensuring that safe food reaches the consumers. Information shared included the responsibilities of suppliers and guidance to consumers when purchasing food. The VPHU also collaborated with several agencies to share information on antimicrobial resistance and zoonosis. In addition, the VPHU produced and broadcast two food safety videos in collaboration with PAHO on several television channels nationwide on June 07 and 09 2022.

Guyana Livestock Development Agency (GLDA) in Region 5 – Mahaica / Berbice

The Guyana Livestock Development Agency in collaboration with VPHU facilitated an outreach on 08 June 2022 with livestock farmers and other stakeholders such as meat processors, butchers, and pharmaceutical retailers along the food chain. This outreach targeted thirty (30) persons and was executed at the Regional Agriculture Office Onverwagt, West Coast Berbice. Presentations on prevention and control of zoonosis, antimicrobial resistance, biosecurity, Five Keys to Safer Food and personal hygiene were done. This proved to be a highly interactive session with the farmers and other food business operators. Possible solutions to the current challenges being faced in the region concerning the implementation of best practices for safe food production were also discussed.

In continuing the sensitization activities, this time in Region 6, it is expected that more training and education talks will be done on 22 June 2022 at the Regional Democratic Council Boardroom, Vreyman's Erven, New Amsterdam – Region 6 – East Berbice/Corentyne.

School Outreach programmes at six (6) schools in Regions 3 and 4 – 09 June 2022

Inspectors from the various departments that regulate food from farm to fork embarked on school sensitization talks. Students in the 10th Grade benefitted from awareness talks for the purpose of enhancing their awareness on World Food Safety Day, the role of the departments responsible for food safety, the National Codex Committee and the Codex Alimentarius, food safety tips and best practices when purchasing and preparing food.

Guided talks and tokens (masks, mugs, T-shirts, note pads, aprons, bottles etc.,) were shared with the students in addition to pamphlets, booklets and posters pertaining to food safety. The schools that benefitted from these awareness exercises were:

1. North Georgetown Secondary

2. South Ruimveldt Secondary

3. West Demerara Secondary

4. Brickdam Secondary

5. St. John’s College

6. Covent Garden Secondary

7. West Minister Secondary School

8. Grove Secondary School

The talks at each school culminated with a question-and-answer segment. The consensus was that the school talks were well received by the students due to the feedback and engagement that was had during the presentations.

World Food Safety Day Mini-Expo – 10 June 2022 [Main Street, Georgetown]

 Departments under the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture and the National Codex Committee under the Ministry of Trade Tourism Industry and Commerce participated in a street mini-expo on Main Street, Georgetown – the capital city. This mini expo was celebrated under the theme: Safer food, better health and slogan: Enhancing Guyana’s participation in Codex to ensure Safer Food and Better Health. Scores of persons visited the booths and received information in keeping with enhancing consumer awareness on food safety and making safe and healthy choices. There was active and continuous interaction at the various booths throughout the day. Local manufacturers were also invited to the expo to display their products to the public. Consumers partook in various prize-winning activities to which hampers were distributed.

In summation, all the activities across the various regions shared the same message about the importance of food safety in the food supply chain. The events all highlighted the pivotal role consumers play in the support of safe and sustainable food systems.