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Caribbean Food Safety Study

Caribbean Food Safety Study

Caribbean Food Safety Study

“The world is in a battle with bacteria.” This was the view of one of America’s highly respected business magazines, Fortune, bemoaning the dilemma facing America with 48 million consumers becoming sick from food-borne pathogens.  It is estimated that it costs US consumers approximately US$55.5 billion to address food safety problems due to various deadly food borne bacteria. The Technological Solutions Limited (TSL) team, led by Jamaican food scientist, Dr. Andre′ Gordon, has been addressing this issue for Jamaican exports of a range of foods to the United States of America (USA), Canada and the European Union, including the United Kingdom.

At a recent presentation of research work done by TSL at the International Association of Food Protection (IAFP) in Tampa in July made by Ms. Zoe Gordon, Microbiological Analyst at Technological Solutions Limited, she indicated that people in the Caribbean, which is home to 39.1 million people with a further 28.7 million stop-over visitors in 2015 (the Caribbean Tourism Organization), all expect to get safe, wholesome food.  In her presentation, Ms. Gordon pointed to a 2015 Caribbean Public Agency (CARPHA) report which stated that food safety had become a major issue for consumers both in the regional as well as in export markets, with any increase in foodborne illness being a cause for concern. “Although statistics suggest that the number and severity of major foodborne illness outbreaks in the region have been relatively limited, any major outbreak would be of concern not only because of the public health significance for the regional population, but also because of its impact on tourism, the engine of regional growth,” she said.  “Consequently, understanding the microbiological profile of Caribbean foods and how this influences their safety would facilitate better planning and management of food safety in the region.,” she added.

Referring to the study done by her organization to bridge this gap, Ms. Gordon said “Very little is known about the conformance of a range of foods with industry standards and how this influences food safety,” In the study, TSL examined data gathered over an 11year period (2004-2014) on a wide range of Caribbean foods and environmental samples from selected production facilities in its ISO 17025 accredited laboratory. The paper, co-authored by Ms. Zoe Gordon, Mr. James Kerr and Dr. André Gordon, is the first report which presented detailed information on the comparison of a wide range of Caribbean foods with international food safety (microbiological) standards and showed exceptional conformance with these standards.

Additionally, Ms. Gordon pointed out that the importance of exports to regional food producers has made compliance with food safety import regulations such as those under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and industry mandated standards a priority. Extensive data to support regional exports and case studies on food safety in the Caribbean can also be found in Dr. Andre Gordon’s new book “Food Safety & Quality Systems in the Developing Countries, Volume II: Case Studies of Effective Implementation”, published in association with the Amsterdam, Netherlands-based Elsevier (Academic Press). Elsevier is known throughout the international scientific community for superior quality content.

In support of Jamaican and regional exports, Technological Solutions Limited (TSL) has been conducting a range of training workshops across the region, keeping manufacturers abreast of the measures to ensure the safety of its consumers which continue to be implemented by the United States under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  A new regulation will come into effect in September this year which could see many Jamaican and other Caribbean firms not being able to export to that market, if they are non-compliant. “This could have significant implications for manufacturers, distributors, food handling operations, farmers, suppliers of food inputs and exporters of food sold in the United States who could lose their markets, allowing other compliant competitors to capitalize on these opportunities,” Dr. Gordon warned.  Firms therefore need to ensure they understand the requirements and become compliant. Research work that provide data such as TSL has presented can significantly assist firms in attaining this compliance.

TSL has been providing solution-oriented technical assistance to the SME, private sector and support institutions in Jamaica, other Caribbean countries, Canada, Southern Africa, the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) for over 20 years.

JEA’s Export Services Champion 2016

JEA’s Export Services Champion 2016

JEA’s Export Services Champion 2016

The Caribbean’s leading food safety, quality assurance experts and export advisory consultants Technological Solutions Limited (TSL) has again been recognized for excellence in its field. At the Jamaica Exporters’ Awards Banquet on July 8, TSL was named the Champion Exporter in the Services, Category II.

The JEA awardees were chosen based on, among other things, earnings and the percentage increase in earnings over the previous period; size and importance of markets serviced; new markets entered; significant contributions made to the overall export sector during the period, strategies in respect of alternative energy, intellectual property, advertising and promotions and IT deployment were some of the critical benchmarks.

Managing Director of TSL, Dr. André Gordon, expressing gratitude at the awards ceremony said:  “We are naturally very pleased with this award, as it recognizes the commitment of the entire team at TSL. Through the team’s application of sound science, we continue to support not just Jamaican firms, but clients in the region’s food industry in their drive to be globally competitive, and thus to spur the sustainable growth of our economies.” TSL was previously recognized in this category at the 2015 JEA Awards.

Among TSL’s other accomplishments is the publication of Food Safety and Quality Systems in Developing Countries, Volumes I and II (both published by Academic Press/Elsevier). A third volume is in preparation. The series highlights the sophisticated initiatives being implemented by firms in Caribbean and developing countries in their approach to food safety and quality systems, as well as food science and TSL’s role in supporting them.

Dr. Gordon in 2014 received JEA’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his unique and pioneering role in providing market access services to the export sector for over 30 years.  This he had done primarily through TSL, while displaying a strong spirit of entrepreneurship and service to country, the region and the sector.   In 2016 TSL was also recognized by the JEA as one its “Fantastic 50” as it applauded 50 of the country’s outstanding companies for their contribution to exports.

Technological Solutions Limited (TSL) began operations in July 1996 and has built an enviable reputation throughout the region for its work in preparing organizations and companies to deal with the practical realities of competing and exporting in the globalized business environment. Led by Dr. André Gordon, TSL offers a comprehensive range of technical, environmental and scientific services to support the productive sector in Jamaica and the Caribbean. It does this by utilizing the skills of highly competent staff and the latest technology to meet the needs of its customers.  TSL’s laboratory is ISO 17025 accredited.

TSL Celebrates 20th Anniversary with Awards

TSL Celebrates 20th Anniversary with Awards

TSL Celebrates 20th Anniversary with Awards

TSL CELEBRATES 20 YEARS WITH AWARDS AND ACCOLADES

Colleagues, clients, associates, friends and family poured into the Valencia M Suite of the Spanish Court Hotel located in New Kingston on Thursday (June 22), to celebrate with the dynamic Jamaican company, Technological Solutions Limited (TSL), which has made significant and impactful strides in the region in the area of food science and technology over the past 20 years.  Employees who have been with the company within that time frame were also recognised for their years of dedicated service, while TSL’s clients who have been supportive over the years were presented with citations and awards.

The highly respected company, headed by Dr. Andre′ Gordon,  Managing Director, food scientist and co-author of two academic publications on Food Safety, has been lauded for building many businesses through  the introduction of cutting-edge systems and technology, thus  facilitating  them in  gaining a competitive edge in the export market. Over the years, cheese, ackee, conch, bottled water, sauces, condiments and other products which might have had challenges and glitches in gaining acceptance or entry into overseas markets, have been given the stamp of approval through TSL’s technical support, thus making an impact and marked improvement in their ability to conduct business profitably in their chosen markets.

Bringing his testimonial from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Mr. Kenneth DaSilva, Financial Director, Mountain Top Springs spoke of his company’s long and successful association with TSL, (highlighting the impact TSL has had on the company particularly, in its start-up years and TSL’s support in getting their product to market.)

For TSL’s Jamaican customers, long standing client Mr. Norman McDonald, Chairman of the agro processing company Canco Ltd., lauded TSL for its tenacity in pursuing its belief that ackees could make its way back to the US market, when most couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

 

“In some quarters Andre is called the “Ackee-ologist” but the truth be known, TSL has a vast breadth and depth of knowledge and is more than willing to share and guide Jamaica’s Industry and indeed the regions and beyond. Andre is indeed an industry and nation builder.  He is persistent and is very good at forcing you into doing what’s good for you whether you like it or not.” said Mr. McDonald. 

Amidst the Afrocentric rhythms of the Akwaaba Drummers, a number of  TSL’s long standing clients  were recognised.  Among them were:  Ashman Food Products Limited; Canco Limited; Dairy Industries Limited;  Fachoy; Goddard Catering Group; GraceKennedy; Gray’s Pepper Products; Lasco Affiliated Group of Companies; Mountain Top Springs (St. Vincent & The Grenadines);  Southern Fruits & Food Processors, UL Manufacturig; AML/Walkeswood; Jamaica Biscuit Company; Island Packers and Stanmark Processing Company; and Discovery Travel; and BCB Scientific Sales & Services (two longstanding suppliers).

Former and present directors of the company and long serving members of staff  were also recognised and commended by TSL’s Chairman, Mr. Erwin Jones for:  “working assiduously to keep the TSL engine moving… working in laboratories, on the road,  and overseas,  doing the work most critical to the reputation of the company and to the success of the clients  who depend on the TSL support services.”         

Defending Ackee Exports To The Usa

Defending Ackee Exports To The Usa

Defending Ackee Exports To The Usa

Ackee, Jamaica’s national fruit, is not only a staple of the Jamaican diet, but is also socio-economically important, being grown and processed in rural areas where employment opportunities are limited. The ackee processing industry is therefore very important to Jamaica. Ackee and codfish, Jamaica’s national dish, was ranked number two in the world by a 2011 National Geographic survey of national dishes. The fame and international renown of the fruit is matched by an intriguing trade history which has been fraught with challenges that can provide a template for dealing with difficult market-access issues for traditional exports to global markets.

Ackees have been a part of the diet of Jamaicans for many years, the majority of whom are aware of its toxicological properties and know how to prepare it to ensure safety. Unripe ackees contain high levels of a natural toxin, Hypoglycin A which, if ingested can cause the illness known as Jamaican vomiting sickness or toxic hypoglycaemic syndrome (THS). Ackee poisoning therefore results from the ingestion of unripe ackee or from drinking the water in which the ackee was cooked, hypoglycin having been shown to be soluble in water. Concern about the presence of hypoglycin A (HGA) in ackees resulted in the prohibition of their importation into the United States through an import alert imposed on the fruit in 1973, although Jamaica continued exporting to various other countries around the world including Japan, Central and South America, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

Despite the prohibition, the product was still available in the United States, as illegal imports from Canada made their way into areas where there were high populations of people of Jamaican descent, such as Florida and New York. This kept the demand for the fruit alive in the US market, despite the import alert. Nevertheless, the risk of loss of exports resulted in severe restrictions of the trade and resulted in elevated demand and relatively high prices for the fruit. This led to several efforts to get the alert lifted, supported by scientific work in characterizing the plant and its toxin which served to begin to build a body of information about the role of commercial practices in the safety of the fruit.

In 1998, the Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA) was approached by the US embassy in Jamaica to partner with them in developing and implement a programme to get Jamaican ackees back into that market. This came out of a close working relationship with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) at the time, which translated into a personal interest of the then Ambassador, His Excellency Stanley McLelland, who hoped to make a transformational impact on the Jamaican economy. The JEA formed what was called the Jamaican Ackee Task Force, led by Director Dr. André Gordon of TSL, who spearheaded the process.

Some months later, in April 1999, at the request of the US embassy in Jamaica, the FDA met with the US Ambassador, the US Embassy’s agricultural attaché, and a delegation led by Dr. Gordon of the JEA/TSL and which included representatives of the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) and industry representatives to discuss the safety of the fruit. Dr. Gordon presented a scientific approach to ensuring the safety of the fruit, supported by Industry representatives and the BSJ. The approach involved the implementation of the then novel food safety system, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) in all exporting processing plants and adherence to Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) to control the levels of toxin in the fruit. The adherence to the programme would be overseen by the BSJ, whose staff and inspectorate now had to be trained by TSL to inspect according to HACCP principles.

This visit, the subsequent inspections by the FDA and the successful petition to them to lift the import alert was the start of an alliance between the US competent authority (the FDA), the exporters’ trade association, the JEA, TSL’s technical experts, the Jamaican ackee industry and the Jamaican competent authority (the BSJ). This alliance saw the implementation of the FDA’s first successful international outreach programme in which a preventive controls programme was implemented that assured the safety of ackees imported into the United States. Today, the relationships forged then continue and the goal of ensuring that safe ackees from Jamaica had access to the US market has been achieved. The details of what happened to make this possible is captured in the book, Food Safety and Quality Systems in Developing Countries: Export Challenges and Implementation Strategies, co-authored by Dr. Gordon, his BSJ colleague Mr. James Kerr and their FDA colleague, Dr. Joyce Saltsman.

GMA & TSL to Deliver Food Safety Training to Caribbean

GMA & TSL to Deliver Food Safety Training to Caribbean

GMA & TSL to Deliver Food Safety Training to Caribbean

A memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed between the Grocery Manufacturers Association Science and Education Foundation of the USA (GMA-SEF) and Jamaican food technology company Technological Solutions Limited (TSL) for the joint marketing and execution of Food Safety Training programmes (FST) to be delivered in the Caribbean. The MOU was signed on Monday May 1 at TSL’s Red Hills Road offices by Dr. Andre′ Gordon, TSL’s Managing Director and Dr. Akhila Vasan, GMA-SEF’s Scientific Programme Manager at GMA Science and Education Foundation.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is the trade organization representing the world’s leading food, beverage and consumer products companies and associated partners. The U.S. food, beverage and consumer packaged goods industry plays a unique role as the single largest U.S. manufacturing employment sector, with 2.1 million jobs in 30,000 communities across the country that deliver products vital to the wellbeing of people around world. GMA has a primary focus on product safety, science-based public policies and industry initiatives that seek to empower people with the tools and information they need to make informed choices and lead healthier lives.

The GMA Science and Education Foundation (SEF) is a non-profit foundation that provides scientific and educational contributions to the food and consumer products industry. Through the foundation, the global food industry can leverage state-of-the-art technologies and processes with the technical expertise provided by GMA’s scientific staff to achieve timely results and solutions.

“The vision of the GMA Science and Education Foundation is to catalyze the improvement of global food safety inspiring the trust of the world’s consumers,” Dr Vasan said.” Our mission is to deliver innovative research, state-of-the art training and best-in-class education programmes to the food industry and consumers and, thereby, contribute to the delivery of high quality, safe food and consumer products.”

Technological Solutions Limited (TSL) offers a comprehensive range of technical services to support the productive sector in Jamaica and the Caribbean. The company provides guidance in trade-related technical requirements, and specializes in food safety, quality assurance, auditing, production systems design and implementation, and an extensive range of analytical services, including shelf life analysis and consumer/product complaint evaluation.

TSL also provides plant and facility layout and design, new product development, profit improvement, trouble-shooting and consulting services. Together with its expertise in the area of standards and standardization, these services enable Caribbean companies in the business of agriculture, agro-processing, food service, hospitality, exporting, manufacturing and distribution to access world-class technical services that are focused on their specific needs and circumstances.

Publication Promoting Caribbean Foods as Excellent Products Launched

Publication Promoting Caribbean Foods as Excellent Products Launched

Publication Promoting Caribbean Foods as Excellent Products Launched

Publication promoting Caribbean foods as Excellent Products of Exceptional Quality underpinned by Sound Science Launched by Dr. Andre Gordon

Thursday, April 20, 2017 was of particularly great importance to the Caribbean Food Industry, as Dr. Andre Gordon, Managing Director of Technological Solutions Limited launched his second book in a three-part series entitled, “Food Safety& Quality Systems in Developing Countries: Volume II: Case Studies of Effective Implementation”.   This publication highlights strategies implemented  by some firms to address critical food safety  issues, primarily through the use of case studies.

Speaking at the event, Guest Speaker, former Prime Minister P. J. Patterson, commended Dr. Gordon on the work he and TSL has been doing to build Jamaica and the region’s food industry to make our firms compliant with international standards and our products acceptable in major export markets such as the USA, the EU and Canada.  The former Prime Minister commented on the ground-breaking work Dr. Gordon has been doing in the industry and helping to establish Caribbean brands internationally as safe, high quality foods.

A synopsis of the publication was given by Chairman of the Standards Council of the Bureau of Standards  Jamaica Mr. James Rawle.  In his review, Mr. Rawle noted that the book, which draws on years of real-life interventions in a range of industries, was structured to present a platform through which Jamaican and Caribbean foods, including some of our iconic products could be promoted globally and presented as excellent products of exceptional quality, and whose production is backed by sound science.  He noted that the fundamental theme of the book is that Caribbean traditional foods, such as Jerk seasoning, canned ackees and our beverages, are fast becoming mainstream products in developed markets and are no longer confined to limited quantities in ethnic shops, but are increasingly found in large multiples.  He noted that the book was well structured, as complex concepts were fully explained complemented with some 300 references and several illustrations in the form of diagrams, charts and summary tables which provide clarity, thus making it easy to read and understand.

To purchase your copy of Food Safety& Quality Systems in Developing Countries: Volume II: Case Studies of Effective Implementation”  you may contact do so from this website or contact us at Technological Solutions Limited by telephone at – 632-3245 or 632-3217.

The book is also available for sale on line through publishers Elseviere from the following link:

http://www.elsevier.com/books/food-safety-and-quality-systems-in-developing-countries/gordon/978-0-12-801226-0

 or through Amazon at

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=food+science+and+technology+-+andre+gordon&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3Afood+science+and+technology+-+andre+gordon