HACCP certification helps Samoa retain export markets

Government and businesses in Samoa are taking huge strides to comply with international food safety requirements and standards to retain export markets for their products.

The effort is paying off with exporters acknowledging that the challenges faced during the certification process has been worth it.

At an event held in June this year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and several companies received Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) accreditation after successfully completing the requirements, and going through a series of inspections and audits.

The introduction of the HACCP program into Samoa has been a success thanks to the collaboration between the Samoan Government, Samoa Association of Manufacturers and Exporters (SAME), and the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (PHAMA) Program, an aid-for-trade initiative funded by the Australian and New Zealand governments.

PHAMA has supported HACCP accreditation by providing technical support to meet requirements and the auditing of food processing facilities.  PHAMA’s support is aligned with its priorities to increase Samoan exports by helping exporters to comply with international food safety standards.

Shiori Vaa of R & L Keil Holdings Ltd, an exporter of noni juice, said it took them approximately six months to meet inspection and audit requirements.

“About 10 years ago we were HACCP accredited but it was not renewed due to high costs. Our expectation this time was to get a valid certificate and to maintain (compliance). Although I had a manual from 10 years ago to base on, re-creating the manual was the hardest part,” she said.

“Another challenge was the upgrading of our facility which was not easy to do mainly because of the lack of resources and funds. We had to be creative and think of alternate ways to refurbish,” she said.

Vaa said although HACCP was a relatively new concept in Samoa, it had been a standard practice in the international market for some time. “We are proud that we can now provide a product that is made in Samoa and HACCP accredited which assures consumers that our product is safe for consumption and of good quality.”

The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Packhouse and Mobile Abattoir were also among the recently-accredited food-processing facilities.

Senior Crop Physiologist for MAF Tanu Toomata said it took a year for the packhouse to meet the requirements and be accredited.

“The key challenge was trying to master the HACCP Manual which I believe is the core of having food safety standards. Having the HACCP system in place has enabled us to effectively control various components of the export pathway. It has also taught us the importance of recording and record-keeping,” he said.

PHAMA’s Deputy Team Leader Tanuvasa Semy Siakimotu said the HACCP program had been a worthwhile investment by all parties involved in the activity.

“There is a lot of interest from the public and private sectors because of the strong economic potential through this accreditation. The accreditation doesn’t just mean the companies are preparing their food products under conditions where food safety hazards are prevented, eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level, but companies will be able to market and promote their products to potential overseas markets. The PHAMA program has received positive feedback from the stakeholders about this support,” he said.

For further information, contact Kirifi Pouono at k.pouono@phama.biz or on +685 7785244

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