Partnerships Promote Safe Food and Reliable Trade Systems

As global food trade increases, governments need food safety and inspection systems to protect consumers from food-borne illnesses.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011 is the most significant reform of the U.S. food safety infrastructure in 70 years. This landmark legislation shifts the focus of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from responding to outbreaks of food contamination to preventing food-borne illnesses and protecting public health by strengthening food safety systems.

This is good news for U.S. consumers; according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, 48 million Americans are made ill by a food-borne pathogen every year.1

For farmers and food producers in countries that export to the U.S., the FSMA created regulations and food safety protocols that they must adhere to if they want to access the large and lucrative American market.

The diversity and abundance of the American food system depends on safe, reliable global trade. Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries provide a year-round supply of fresh fruits and vegetables that are out-of-season or not grown in the U.S. (Credit: IICA)

To help ensure the continued flow of goods from the LAC region to the U.S., the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) strengthened the capacity of governments, producers and businesses to comply with the new FSMA protocols. IICA works in partnership with the FDA, the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

In 2014 and 2015, IICA provided LAC stakeholders the opportunity to learn and ask questions about the FSMA before the implementation of new safety requirements, known as the Preventive Controls (PC) for Human Food.  Through web-based and in-country forums, public and private-sector stakeholders received detailed information about the proposed regulations and had an opportunity for more in-depth discussion around the challenges and implications of FSMA adoption.

With the compliance date for PC rules looming, IICA engaged in the next phase of capacity building for FSMA: ensuring that LAC had sufficient human resources to train the Qualified Individuals that will be necessary under the PC rule.

Working with the Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA), IICA and FAS implemented lead instructor training programs for participants in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Lucia, and Trinidad & Tobago. As a result, over 200 individuals from the public sector, private sector, and academia are now trained Lead Instructors (LIs) for the PC rule under the FSPCA curriculum. In addition, IICA programs trained nearly 2,500 preventive controls qualified individuals (PCQIs), the designation required by an individual in each establishment that provides food to consumers in the United States.

Technicians from Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Haiti and the Dominican Republic are trained and enabled to serve as instructors and trainers of other technicians, agro-entrepreneurs, processors and agro-exporters. They facilitate compliance with international food safety standards required by importing countries, particularly with the FSMA regulations in the USA. Commercialization of agricultural products will increase. There will be fewer rejections of exports due to non-compliance with the current international regulations on food safety and food protection. Photo: IICA

Building from its experience with PC training, IICA implemented programs to develop trainers for the Produce Safety rule. In 2017 and 2018, IICA supported programs in Barbados, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Peru, St. Vincent and Trinidad & Tobago that resulted in 210 certified trainers. IICA implemented training activities for growers in parallel with these activities, under which nearly 800 growers received Alliance-approved training in produce safety.

Moving forward, IICA will build technical capacities on a large-scale in Costa Rica, during which 60 technicians from eleven countries will have an opportunity to become lead trainers for the produce safety rule.

These actions are helping protect consumers in the United States from food-borne illness while promoting economic opportunities and trade with exporting countries across the Latin American region.

 


 

  1. “Burden of Foodborne Illness: Findings,” Centers for Disease Control, https://www.cdc.gov/foodborneburden/2011-foodborne-estimates.html, Accessed August 29, 2018.

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