A training on the Importance of compliance and Implementation of Food Safety Plans (HACCP) concluded last week in Honiara with calls for similar trainings to enhance the knowledge and capacity of local food processors and exporters.
The two-days training was funded by PACER Plus under its National Implementation Plan for Solomon Islands and conducted by the Food Safety Unit within Environmental Health Division of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services.
In this day and age, consumers are prioritising food safety than ever before, therefore importing countries are putting up measures to ensure that safety of food products exported are guaranteed.
For the Solomon Islands, improving quality and sanitation issues is critical to improving marketing opportunities regionally and internationally. Food safety and quality standards are becoming an important requirement for trading food products across borders.
Local exporter, Dr Wale Tobata of Sol-Kava was among the 20 participants who participated in the two-days event.
Dr Tobata said the country needs more of such training for food processors and exporters.
He emphasized the need for more of such training after consulting up to nine participants on the benefits of the training.
“For some of them this is the first time for them to hear about HACCP, let alone understand there are systematic approaches that you need to follow, as well as the need to have operational procedures with templates that you need to do records with,” he added.
Dr Tobata runs a kava processing plant in the Solomon Islands as well as a farm. Under the current Commercial Kava Pilot project for Australia, Sol-kava was the only Solomon Islands exporter to have sent kava to Australia under that exercise. The company has also exported products to the United States and Kiribati.
After being involved in the Australian market, he started to get feedbacks and issues with the products exported from the Solomon Islands.
There were also feedbacks from buyers in the United States on Solomon Islands products where traces of the ecoli and salmonella bacteria were found after tests.
Dr Tobata said for the Solomon Islands and for small traders like him such a training is of great importance.He further encouraged the establishment of a competent authority that sees through the processes and to ensure that when the country has a HACCP facility, it is also accompanied by good manufacturing practices to get rid of risks such as contamination.
The sentiments on the positive outcome of the food and safety training was also emphasized by Jennifer Keli of Jedom Organic Food.
Mrs. Keli said the training helps to identify critical points that she failed in and areas that she needs to improve in.“From the farm to the process line, to the transport, the facilities, kitchen, labeling as well as training my staff on the methods” she remarked.
She emphasized that everyone involved in the processing of food must be given the chance to participate in such training, especially people involved in providing food services to our people.
Her company, Jedom Organic Food is a family owned business operating for the past 17 years. They have been involved in research and preservation of fruits, nuts and vegetables and root crops.
Among the objectives of the training was for participants to understand the Food Safety system (HACCP) and why it is important for Assurance of Food Safety, it is also an opportunity for them to successfully develop a HACCP Plan Template for their own Food Processing Systems with support from third party and advice from the Food Safety unit /MHMS.
—MFAET PRESS RELEASE