BELIZE PRODUCERS FACE NEW EXPORT RULES
The new European Union standards on food safety came into effect last Sunday. Love News spoke with BAHA s Director of Food safety Doctor Michael Deshields.
Dr. Michael Deshields:
You have to have some overseeing body and it's to see that products you are exporting from the country would meet the international standards of those importing countries. Sometimes the standards that an importing country puts on an exporting country like Belize is very strict and sometimes it might even be more stringent than what they ask of their own national standards. So we have to work along with trade as well to make sure that those standards are not going beyond what they should. They have to meet a certain level. The new EU standards which came into effect the first of January this year was basically presented from 2004 but it came into effect this year. So it gave countries time to look at their legislations and to look and see how that will impact the products they are exporting. We are very fortunate that we have BAHA because we have been looking at this whole idea about trade for a long time since 2000 and 2001. So we have updated legislations that deal w!
ith a lot of issues that some of the countries are now just looking at. So we do have a lot of legislations in place on some of our countries who are exporting. We don't have that many that are exporting but most of those who are have been putting those standards in place.
Deshields says there was much work done between the first visit of the EU inspectors in 2001 and the implementation of the new standards.
Dr. Michael Deshields:
The EU sent inspectors here when we were trying to export to the EU our fish and fisheries products so they came here and did an audit which is called a sanitary audit. BAHA to see what we were doing to see if we had the competence, to see if we had the legislation in place, to see if we had the infrastructure in place and to look at our inspection system. They also visited a number of facilities, particularly the shrimps and the co-ops to see what they were doing themselves. The real reason they came here was to see whether we had the competence to do the sanitary checks that they needed. We went through two years and they left recommendations on their first visit because we didn't really pass the first time. 2001 was when they came and then they came back again in 2002. We put a lot of controls, we worked hard on it and we finally put our house in order and get everything in order so when they came the second time they were happy and now we can finally export that pr!
oduct to the EU freely, which is called a list one status. It is a very good status and not many countries have that. They were looking at the legislature at the same time and so now they are applying that same and so now they are applying that same legislature across the board with a number of other products. The main one affected would be food of animal origin. It's basically looking at food safety at the farm level right down to the consumer so it's a continuum they are looking at now, before it was just one area they were checking but now they are making it more comprehensive to look at food safety across the whole chain.
Doctor Michael Deshields BAHA s Director of Food Safety.