Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards (TTBS) joins the international community in commemoration of World Accreditation Day (WAD) 2020! This year the theme is “Accreditation: Improving food safety”. The World Health Organization (WHO) celebrated World Food Safety Day on 7th June 2020, where the theme was “Food safety, everyone’s business”. According to the WHO, food safety is a shared responsibility between governments, producers and consumers. If this is truly accepted then it is clear that the aim is to mainstream food safety in the public agenda and reduce the burden of foodborne diseases globally.
WAD 2020 provides a forum to reflect on how accreditation helps protect the population by assuring the food that is consumed is safe and nutritious. It brings to focus the need to manage the risk of the transfer of disease from animals to humans. According to reports from the World Health Organization, approximately 60% of emerging diseases are from zoonotic pathogens1. Ensuring that pathogens are not passed to persons through food, which is one of the essential resources to support life, is the focus of the conformity assessment activities established within a country. These conformity assessment activities such as certification or inspection body, testing, calibration or laboratories are assured through accreditation.
Speaking on the value and importance of using the accreditation of laboratories to support food security and safety, Mr. Lawford Dupres, Chairman TTBS, reaffirmed that the main thrust of accreditation is to ensure that regulators, governments, private and public sector and end users can rely on the competence of conformity assessment body (CAB) to deliver accurate and reliable results on which important national decisions are made.
“Accreditation builds trust and provides the assurance that CABs can reliably perform specific quality tests in all parts of local, national and international food chains that adhere to stringent internationally recognized standards. It also demonstrates that the test results provided was produced in a competent laboratory, as it uses criteria and procedures specifically developed to determine technical competence and impartial inspection” Mr. Dupres said.
One thing that the COVID-19 pandemic has very clearly demonstrated is how connected all countries are. Before COVID-19, the frequency of transport between countries has created the risk of the transmission of disease, including via food. It is important for each country to have strong food safety measures that include the testing, inspection and certification activities to ensure that the food consumed within a country is safe whether it is locally produced or imported. Accreditation of these conformity assessment services help to assure the public that the result or decision made by the authorities or the manufacturers can be trusted and therefore the food purchased and consumed.
Recognizing the value and importance of laboratory accreditation Mr. Derek Luk Pat Executive Director, TTBS said “The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (GORTT) has been committed to assuring conformity assessment activities used locally with the Standards Act Chapter 82:03 giving TTBS the legal mandate to be the laboratory accrediting body. With this mandate, it was required that the accreditation body established, the Trinidad and Tobago Laboratory Accreditation Service (TTLABS) was given the mandate through the Standards Regulations to ensure that the local accreditation programme is internationally recognized”.
Mr. Luk Pat indicated “The developments made to achieve this so far have brought us to this point: to separate the accreditation body from TTBS. The GORTT has secured grant funding through the Compete Caribbean Partnership Fund to establish the Trinidad and Tobago Accreditation Service for Conformity Assessment (TTASCA). The creation of TTASCA will support the sustainable development of Trinidad and Tobago, inclusive of regulations, manufacturing, business and ultimately the citizenry. The independent and impartial endorsement of the conformity assessment services within the country leads to trust of the systems, products and services within Trinidad and Tobago will be garnered”.
Ms. Karlene Lewis, Manager TTLABS, TTBS, emphasized the value and importance of WAD2020 as it allows the opportunity to demonstrate how accreditations supports the safety of food that is consumed. This is such a vital fundamental building block for life and supports the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 3 – Good Health and Well-Being.
TTBS is pleased to celebrate WAD2020 with the international community and demonstrate the commitment to National Quality in Trinidad and Tobago with the advancement of the establishment of TTASCA. TTBS, TTLABS and eventually TTASCA are and will be here to continue supporting the development of industry and the public service toward the fulfilment of the National Development Strategy.