The Veterinary Public Health (VPH) Unit has recognised that health promotion is paramount; hence it is ensuring that animal foods imported be subjected to testing, quality assurance and quantity control.
The Director of the VPH unit, Dr. Joshua Da Silva told the Government Information Agency (GINA) that food hygiene is a major component of the unit, therefore the push for guaranteed food safety.
Dr. Joshua Da Silva – Director, Veterinary Public Health Unit, Ministry of Public Health
“I would say poultry is one of the concerns; chicken must not be imported illegally and whoever wants to import chicken must go to the relevant authorities like the Ministry of Business to ensure that they have the relevant quota, to the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that approval is given there, to our ministry, Ministry of Public Health to make sure that the approval is also given before importation,” Da Silva said.
“We are just pleading with the public that they must stop whatever apparent illegal trade of poultry into our country and to follow the procedure and the same goes for fish and fishery products specifically when it comes to shrimp. The well-known one is the ‘black shrimp’ in the Corentyne. We need that to stop. We are asking that the importers or those who do trade with them must follow the procedure,” Da Silva urged.
In the Animal Health Act of 2011, no animal, animal product or commodity shall be imported into Guyana except in accordance with the Act.
For the purpose of preventing the introduction, establishment or spread of any disease or listed pathogens in Guyana through the importation of animals, animal products or commodities, the relevant authorities may establish import requirements based on risk analysis. It may issue import permits; designate official border posts; or carry out the inspection, testing, detention, disinfection, destruction, disposal, seizure and re-shipment of any animal.
The Government Analyst Food and Drug Department (GA-FDD), the Guyana National Bureau of standards (GNBS) and the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA) all play major roles in ensuring that standards are in place, import samples are thoroughly tested, and that foods are generally ideal for human consumption.
In cases where importers fail to obtain legal clearance for importation of animal foods, persons are exposed to chances of purchasing and consuming substandard food.
Moreover, illegal importation means commodities are not subjected to requisite checks and verification before being sold to the public.
One of the recognised and recommended methods for ensuring healthy foods are imported is the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP). HAACP is a management system in which food safety is addressed through the analysis and control of biological, chemical, and physical hazards. The systems allows for close monitoring of foods meeting standard requirements for human consumption from raw material production, procurement and handling, to manufacturing, distribution and consumption of the finished product.