Executive Director of CARDI, Barton Clarke, as he chaired the Regional Planning Meeting, on the establishment of Regional Coconut Water Quality, Standards and Protocols, at CROSQ Headquarters recently.
Regional standards to be set for quality, safety of coconut water
Given concerns about food safety issues in relation to the quality of coconut water sold at retailers in Barbados and across the region, efforts are being made to establish regional coconut water quality standards and protocols, to better protect consumers.
The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) has noted that “Growing health concerns and recent independent safety sampling assessments of coconut water, indicate the quality and safety of coconut water sold at retailers throughout the region is not guaranteed and public health, and by extension trade (intra-Regional and overseas markets), may be compromised as a result”.
To this end, CARDI partnered with the CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ) yesterday, to host a Regional Planning Meeting on the establishment of Regional Coconut Water Quality, Standards and Protocols. The meeting was held at CROSQ Headquarters in the Baobab Tower in Warrens, St. Michael on Monday.
Addressing the media during the break, Executive Director of CARDI, Mr. Barton Clarke stressed the importance of such a meeting. “We are trying to rebuild the Caribbean coconut industry… and we recognised that we need to address the issue of food safety and quality, because we have to protect the interest of our consumers and the interest of the farmers as well and the processors, because we have noticed significant investments in coconuts. In Guyana they are planting coconuts; in Barbados and so on and they are retailing coconuts, because coconuts are very much part of the fabric of Caribbean life. Almost every brand you see of the Caribbean, you will see a palm tree,” he acknowledged.
“So we know that we have to address this issue. We have engaged the assistance of the CARIRI Laboratory in Trinidad, the Caribbean Environmental Health Laboratory in St. Lucia and the Scientific Research Council in Jamaica, to run some analyses of coconut water samples and there are some challenges which we believe could stymie the development of the industry and therefore, having looked at those results, this is a meeting of key players within the national and regional mechanisms, to help resolve the matter,” Clarke pointed out.
“We are looking specifically at the regional coconut water standard which has been established by CROSQ since 2010, whether or not we need to make adjustments to it and that is emerging from the discussions; what we need to do in terms of people who produce coconuts, how they should manage them in order to reduce the food safety risks; those who process coconuts, how the coconuts are harvested, How do we deal with the coconut waste? Because all these issues, they are backed upon food safety and hygiene, so that is what our discourse is about,” he said of the meeting. (RSM)