The Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI) has started a new initiative called CARIRI in the Community and our second stop was in the Borough of Arima. The first session was held in Tobago on 4th May 2023. This new series aims to reach more of our citizens within their respective communities and will ensure that CARIRI does its part to equip as many of them as possible with the opportunity to expand their knowledge base. This second session was held at the Arima Community Centre on Wednesday 10th May, 2023.
The session in Arima was called ‘Food Safety and You’ and focused on the foundational aspects of what one needs to have a food safe business; this included Good Manufacturing Practices as well as Quality Control. CARIRI believes that this new series will inspire and spur attendees to start new businesses or improve their existing food operations.
The Honourable Minister of Planning and Development and the MP for Arima, Mrs. Pennelope Beckles-Robinson, brought remarks at this session and congratulated CARIRI for this initiative stating that CARIRI continues to be “the centre of excellence, not only leading and serving through innovation and technology and a commitment to local and regional development, but in this case using your years of knowledge and expertise to encourage others to do the same”. The Minister went on to state that “Arima is already home to a thriving food sector with regard to processing and manufacturing, so the hope is that through this exercise we can do more to grow the sector. According to Trade and Industry Minister, Paula Gopee-Scoon, the food and beverage sector in Trinidad and Tobago had an output of close to eight billion TT dollars. So with the proper ideas, products and tools, there are opportunities to be a part of this windfall, as the economy is expected to continue positive growth”.
Also speaking at the event was the Chief Executive Officer of CARIRI, Mr Hans-Erich Schulz who stated that “due to the current economic climate in the country, many people are looking to increase their income by starting their own business, and most times, this would involve food products. Our goal here today is to help you to set your products apart from the competition by the quality of your product. Food Safety is such an important area but it is often neglected by so many.”
The goal of this session was to educate residents in the community on the basics of food safety, this was facilitated by CARIRI’s Food Technology Department who are ready to assist in any way they can. Apart from training, the department is also involved in Product and Process Development, Product and Process Standardisation, Contract Processing/Facility Rental Development of Food Safety Management Systems, Implementation of Food Safety Management Systems and other related activities.
Food Safety and You was aimed to ensure that this mandate is fulfilled by meeting more citizens where they are, in as many communities across Trinidad and Tobago as possible, with the intention to equip as many of them as possible with opportunities to expand their knowledge base in the area of what one needs to have a safe food business, with a focus on good manufacturing practices and quality control.
These workshops will provide communities with value-added skills to help citizens and residents become financially and economically independent and perhaps even pass on knowledge to others. Through expertise sharing, the CARIRI in the Community series will focus on various aspects of CARIRI’s services which include Food Safety, Entrepreneurship with programmes like Customer Service for the Hospitality and Tourism sector and Financial Literacy for SMEs, Information Communication Technology, Innovation and much more.
The day was very interactive and participants learnt about good manufacturing practices, getting their products to the market, sauce/ beverage processing and quality control tips. Food safety is necessary in today’s market since it helps to protect consumers from health risks associated with common allergens, food-borne illnesses, food poisoning, allergic reactions, and other health risks from contaminated foods. This is a good enough goal to achieve through proper processing and food handling processes which also means that it shields your businesses from costly penalties and legal action.
Also in attendance at the Food Safety and You session was the Mayor of Arima, His Worship Cagney Casimire and President of the Arima Business Association, Mr Christian Rampersad.