Puerto Rico Manufacturing Extension launches food safety program
Offers food safety plan free of charge for a limited time; workshop on April 5
SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Manufacturing Extension (Primex) is offerng to create food security plans for up to 100 food-and-beverage manufacturing, processing, packaging, transportation or storage companies.
The nonprofit–which was organized as an initiative of the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co. (Pridco) and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a program under the National Institute of Standards and Technology–has been providing services to improve business processes for about 25 years.
The purpose of its new program is to ensure a safer food supply chain by changing the focus from reacting to a contamination incident to proactive prevention.
“This is not a voluntary certification, but a mandatory legal requirement. The causes of food poisoning come from foodborne diseases; more than 250 diseases have been identified. In addition, most of them are infections produced by a variety of bacteria, viruses and parasites. The most vulnerable populations are children, older adults, pregnant women as well as people with weak immune systems. That is why it is necessary and urgent that companies have a food safety plan to ensure a hazard-free healthy consumption,” the director of PRiMEX’s Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) program, Julio Lugo, said in a release.
Manufacturing represents 24% of the companies registered on the island, of which the majority employ fewer than 20 people, for a combined estimate of 10,000 workers, according to Primex, which believes the program’s impact on the economy could range from the possibility of substituting imports to the opportunity to increase exports, generating revenue locally.
“It is a fundamental requirement that companies develop a written plan for food safety with emphasis on preventive measures for food risks developed by a Preventive Controls Qualified individual (PCQ1). These resources are provided by PRiMEX at this time, free of charge and for a limited time. This plan has an approximate market cost of $3,000 to $6,000,” Lugo said.
The engineer said a food safety plan includes risk analysis, preventive controls, monitoring activities, corrective actions, verifications and a recall program.
“At any time, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can enter a business and inspect processes, and if the company does not comply with the aforementioned law it can bring consequences, from fines, seizure of inventory, up to registry suspension, which is equivalent to closing operations,” Lugo warned.
To provide guidance to entrepreneurs about the importance of having a food safety plan, PRiMEX will hold an event in Mayagüez on April 5, at the Women’s Business Center on 828 Hostos Ave., Villa Capitán II Building, Suite 204. The event will run from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To participate, interested parties must register their company and complete a questionnaire.
Among the topics to be discussed are the modernization law and its Toyota Kata requirements, a methodology to gradually achieve goals. In addition, the development of nutritional labels and experimenting with formulas, among other topics will be on the agenda. The latter will be presented by Dr. Fernando Pérez, director of the Food Science and Technology Graduate Program of the University of Puerto Rico’s Mayagüez Campus.
For more information about the program or to attend the April 5 workshop, contact Maritcelí Alvarado at 787-756-0505