By Tracey Khan – Drakes
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Ministry of Tourism Industry & Commerce along with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat today (September,02) held consultations with local stakeholders from the Bureau of Statistics, Consumer Affairs Division and other agencies as it works to develop a regional regulatory system that will monitor and ensure food products entering the region are of no threat to the people.
CARICOM will be conducting consultations throughout the Caribbean Region. The agency responsible for this process is the ‘Rapid Alert System for Exchange of Information on Dangerous Non-Food Consumer Goods (CARREX).
Consumer Health &Safety Officer, CSME Unit in Barbados, Hilda Kelshall explained that this system will help countries express complaints about products entering the country from other member states which may be considered a health and safety risk to consumers.
A more effective regulatory system will also be developed to ensure consumer products entering the region are safe for consumption.
Kelshall also expressed gratitude to the European Union for assisting in this regard, noting that “it will further help to advance the work of CARREX which includes operationalizing and activating the CARREX in member states by providing national contact points and national authorities with full access to the network. It is to raise public awareness through national consultations with all stakeholders and share information through the medium so that CARICOM nationals will become fully sensitized and better informed about the CARREX”.
She further noted that “CARREX must be seen as a critical tool for the region and can assist to eliminate the dependency syndrome of the region on US regulators to ensure dangerous products are not on the markets of the community this region has in the past and even now continue to rely heavily on international institutions for information either directly or indirectly…..the problem with this dependency syndrome is that some of these international institutions particularly with federal and state agencies in the US will only issues alerts when the dangerous foods and products in question are on the US market, however, if the dangerous food is in foreign market they are not obligated to act”.
The CARREX will act in the interest of the people of the region regardless of their location and will ensure that regional authorities that will be set up can take the appropriate action once there is an inherent threat to the people. The system will also allow for information sharing among member states about dangerous products that have been discovered on their markets.