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New standards for poultry imports—Trade Minister

Published: 
Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon, left, with Caribbean Poultry Association Executive Director Desmond Ali during yesterday’s press conference at Nicholas Towers, Port-of-Spain. PICTURE NICOLE DRAYTON

Local consumers will now be protected from “sub-standard” poultry products entering the local market because the Cabinet has agreed to the enforcement of the Caricom Regional Standard for Poultry Products said Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon.

“The standard requires English detailed labels, the names and addresses of the establishment and the processing plant, the country of origin and the dates slaughtered, the best before date. The standard also stipulates that for chilled poultry the best before date should not be more than five days from the date of slaughter,” she said.

Gopee-Scoon spoke yesterday on the recent Cabinet-approved enforcement of the Caricom Regional Standard for Poultry and Poultry Products in T&T, at the Ministry of Trade, Nicholas Towers, Port-of-Spain.

“The Cabinet has agreed to the enforcement of the Caricom Regional Standard for Poultry Products in T&T and this standard will be mandatory. The standard was developed under the authority of the Caricom Regional Organisation for standards and quality and shaped with consultations from stakeholders throughout Caricom members states including T&T. Locally stakeholders including the T&T Bureau of Standards, Caribbean Poultry Association and the Chemistry, Food and Drugs Division of the Ministry of Health in the development of the standards over the period 2012 were engaged,” she said.

The standards indicate quality requirements and specifications for primary, processed poultry consisting of carcasses, poultry parts for human consumption and provides definitions of the standards for the market category of poultry and the requirements of sanitation, hygiene, grading, packaging, labelling and marketing.

She said chicken meat of “varying standards” has been entering T&T despite a Caricom standard for poultry products but that standard is voluntary.

She referred to concerns raised by Agriculture Minister Clarence Rambharat who said there was a need for national standards for poultry products on the backdrop of chicken of questionable quality coming into T&T.

She also said that this new standard will not affect prices at local pluck shops.

She said chicken meat is the most consumed meat in T&T and it is estimated that the average family consumes three to four times per week.

“Domestic consumption of chicken is estimated at 50,000 tonnes per year. The equivalent of that in terms of birds is 55 million chickens per year. 60 per cent of that is produced locally and the rest is imported.”

She added that the Ministry of Health will be responsible for enforcing standards and she hopes it is done by the end of the year.

She spoke about consequences if the requirements are not met.

“These items will just be not offered for sale, will not be on the shelves to the consumers.”

Desmond Ali, executive director, Caribbean Poultry Association, who also spoke at the media conference, said that there is no need for consumers to worry about hormones being injected into chickens.

“I need to put this hormone thing at rest. The fact is that the poultry industry around the world has not been using hormones. The last time they used hormones was in 1963,” he said.

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