Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Quality Checks in Haiti's Meat Industry

This blog post was written by F2F volunteer Robert Spencer.

The purpose of my assignment was to address meat quality assurance for small animal production. My strategy for doing the best possible job was to initially learn as much as possible about the current food industry situation in Haiti, identify opportunities for improvement, conduct relevant training, and then implement a quality training programs for as many parties along the food chain from farm to fork. My focus was on food security, food safety (including relevant HACCP practices), and economic development. Upon assessing the current situation for the food industry in Haiti I found there had been minimal advancements since my last visit three plus years ago. Good news is lots of opportunities for improvement.

With proper implementation of best management practices, increased production, compliance with food safety practices from farm to fork, and support from relevant organizations, businesses, and agencies, economic enhancement should follow. If I were to give a title to this particular assignment it would be “Walking Along the Path to Economic Development through Food Security and Safety”. Through the support of Farmer-to-Farmer Program and Makouti I was able to provide presentations that addressed HACCP, food safety and health along the food chain (farms, transportation, processing, transportation, markets, and restaurants), meat quality assurance from farm to fork, biological and zoonotic issues, contamination issues (biologi
cal, physical, and chemical), and benefits of food safety practices to the retail industry and consumer. 

While site visits to farms, abattoirs, markets, and restaurants provided substantial insight I wanted to take this a step further. (1) Identify farm and restaurant criteria for food safety and develop an evaluation instrument that would assess each site. (2) Develop and conduct a meat quality survey that would obtain value and concerns from restaurant owners and managers. (3) Work with potential inspectors to cross train them on aspects of inspecting farms, butcher shops, and restaurants; while teaching them about public relations and promotional endeavors. Such an approach put us in a better situation to identify needs, opportunities, and future endeavors.

For our outreach initiatives we had four days of training, including rabbit dissection and visit to abattoir; visited and surveyed ten restaurants; and had lots of fun sharing knowledge.  Always learning, fun, and good food when in Haiti.

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