Food safety is a national priority for Barbados, and Government is committed to strengthening food safety programmes and initiatives to safeguard the wellbeing of its citizens.
This declaration by Health Minister John Boyce today came as he addressed the Barbados Food Law and Industry Conference, hosted by Genesis Law Chambers, at Accra Beach Hotel.
The Minister quoted a 2015 World Health Organization (WHO) report which estimated that one in 10 persons worldwide fell ill after eating contaminated food, and 420,000 people died every year, with children under five accounting for 125,000 of those deaths.
Mr. Boyce said that the WHO’s findings highlighted the global threat posed by food-borne illnesses and reinforced the need for collaboration between governments, the food industry and individuals to do more to make food safe.
“We in Barbados cannot ignore the negative impact that food-borne diseases could have on our socio-economic development. The strain placed on our healthcare systems, as well as the harm to tourism and trade industries, is too much for a small country to bear. We, therefore, must make every effort to ensure that the food we eat is safe,” he urged.
Acknowledging that food safety was complex, the Health Minister contended that a multi-sectoral approach was therefore required to address the issues.
In Barbados, he said, the health, agriculture, trade, commerce, environment, water resource management and other related sectors of Government were working in concert to ensure that the production, distribution and preparation of food was done safely.
It was also critical, he added, that there were appropriate laws to establish the rights of consumers to safe food, and accurate and honest information.
Mr. Boyce disclosed that Barbados had adopted the International Health Regulations, adding: “Barbados, having adopted these regulations, recognises that coherent policies, coordinated action among stakeholders, and the empowerment of consumers will be crucial for ensuring that we meet our safety and nutrition objectives, both now and in the future.
“The Government of Barbados pledges to continue to take responsibility for monitoring the entire food industry to ensure that there are no breaches of the regulations, but calls on each and every one to play their part.”