ECGC takes a Proactive Approach to Food Safety
The East Caribbean Group of Companies (ECGC) in its efforts to raise the bar in food safety and regulatory compliance; hosted a training workshop from July 24 to 26, in the development and application of risk-based preventive controls.
As the manufacturer of choice in the OECS, a robust food safety management system is pivotal for compliance in exports regionally and internationally. In 2016, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) made it law that all exporting countries must have a food safety plan designed and implemented by a Preventive Control Qualified Individual (PCQI). A PCQI is a professional that can oversee or perform the preparation of a Food Safety Plan, validate the preventive controls, review records, reanalyze the Food Safety Plan, and any other activities needed to ensure the safe delivery of the food to the consumer.
Last week’s workshop was geared towards meeting the requirements through the “standardized curriculum,” developed by the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA) which is recognized by the Food and Drug Administration as adequate for PCQI training. A total of 14 participants, including representatives from the Public Health Department, attended the training course delivered by Dr. Andre Gordon of Technological Solutions Limited, Jamaica; an expert in the field of food safety and quality systems.
Dr. Gordon lauded ECGC in taking the initiative in training its employees on preventive controls as training of this nature while essential, is not common in the Eastern Caribbean. Dr. Gordon stated “it’s the first time I have done this training, that the persons have so quickly grasped the concepts and displayed such a deep understanding of it. It’s quite impressive because it speaks to the quality of the team that you have at ECGC & ECBI. ECGC will benefit significantly as well as St. Vincent and the Grenadines because as you know we have a couple of participants from Public Health as well. They have been at the forefront of ensuring that not only can you produce and export good quality safe food but more importantly making sure that all of the operations domestically and food coming in, meet the requirements and so they now have additional information and tools to help them do their jobs more effectively.”
The training covered topics such as Current Good Manufacturing Practices, Food Safety hazards, Food Safety Plans, Hazard Analysis and Preventive Controls for: Processes, Food Allergens, Sanitation and Supply Chain. Verification and Validation Procedures and Recall Planning were also part of the syllabus.
Upon completion, ECGC will have over 10 certified PCQI on staff as the company works steadily towards achieving HACCP and GFSI-SQF code certifications for the groups’ flour milling and bottling operations.