How to meet US food export standards, by experts

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THE Institute of Export Operations and Management (IEOM) Executive Secretary, Mr. Ofon Udofia, has canvassed a  national campaign to increase the chances of Nigerian food products in the United States (US).

Most African food products are rejected at US ports, because of failure to comply with sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS), and other standards, including those relating to labelling and packaging.

The  requirements are spelt out in the Food Safety Modernisation Act (FSMA) implemented by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Exporters consider such conditions described as non-tariff barriers challenging to trade.

They identified rapid change in SPS measures, regulations and notifications of new regulations as another problem facing exporters.

Speaking with The Nation, Udofia said the standards were easy to comply with, if the Federal Government and the private sector upgraded their processes.

According to him, the problem with agribusiness firms is lack of technical capacity and knowledge of the requirements and lack of the resources to implement the systems as required.

Since the early 2000s, the US has stipulated that foods entering their markets must have Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) certification.

HACCP) certification is a systematic preventive approach to food safety from biological, chemical, and physical hazards in production processes that can cause the finished product to be unsafe and designs measures to reduce these risks to a safe level.

While American food standards are among the most stringent in the world, Udofia said the government could create the regulatory environment to ensure products for export  were produced under applicable requirements.

He said the government had to work on export certification and requests from the US government to ensure exporters meet them before the products leave the shores of the country.

He said there were opportunities for Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to export more food products to American markets after working with his organisation.

Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs), he added, are trained in quality management, export packaging and in adapting their products to target markets.

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