here for Procedure for the Acquisition of Import Permits
Food Safety Department has a mandate to monitor, evaluate
and take action on any matters that may have a direct or indirect
effect on the safety of the food supply. This is done not
only for the export market, but for local consumption as well.
Providing safe, wholesome and nutritious food is also regarded
as a requirement under the World Trade Organisation (WTO)
agreement, to which Belize is a signatory.
carry out this increasingly important role, the Food Safety
Department is active in the following areas:
A team of Food Safety Inspectors performs sanitary inspections
of the various food-processing plants as well as on certain
food products imported into Belize. The Inspectors are continuously
trained in the latest inspection and sanitary auditing techniques,
so as to be able to respond to any new methods of food processing
applied by industry, and to the ever changing conditions encountered
in food preparation and processing environment that may have
an impact on food safety.
A certification programme, based on the implementation of
the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) food safety system was established for the fish and fishery
products processing industry in Belize which enabled Belize
to export these products freely to both the USA and the European
Union (EU). The farm to table approach of BAHA`s food safety
program, provides for food safety assurances along the entire
chain, from the production site on the farm with the application
of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), to the processing
plants' implementation of Good Manufacturing Practices
(GMP), Standard Sanitary Operating Procedures (SSOP) and HACCP systems that is verified and certified by BAHA`s inspectors
and sanitary auditors. Other certification programmes, such
as one for meat processing plants and one for fruit and vegetable
packing plants are currently being developed in collaboration
with industry and other regulatory agencies.
Investigations into food borne diseases and outbreaks have
been very basic in Belize thus far. The staff of the Food
Safety Department has been upgrading its capacity for carrying
out such investigations and a structured programme has been
put in place to start appropriate monitoring, evaluation and
response to food borne diseases.
The food safety department applies the principles of Risk
Analysis when called to evaluate the risks arising from hazards
(or potential hazards) in foods to ensure that the various
food exporting and importing establishments comply with current
internationally accepted rules and regulations for the safe
handling of food. In collaboration with the SPS Unit, companies
may request a Risk Analysis to be conducted by a BAHA-team
in order to be able to import certain food items into Belize.
BAHA has accelerated the upgrading of the Central
Investigation Laboratory (CIL) of the Food Safety
Department by purchasing state-of-the-art equipment and providing
high-quality training for the staff to enable them to use
this equipment competently, professionally and with optimum
efficiency. The Laboratory is enrolled in several proficiency
testing and quality assurance programs to ensure testing excellence
and gain industry and consumer confidence as well as to keep
abreast of international developments in the field.
CIL is offering a wide range of Laboratory
Services at regionally competitive prices.
The BAHA Act of 1999 (Chapter 211 of the Laws of Belize)
gave provision for the establishment of the Food Safety Department
to effectively put in place the necessary regulations and
controls, allowing BAHA to deal with the issues where food
affect human health. The legislation is being reviewed and
revised (January 2006) to reflect new regulatory developments
(such as traceability requirements) in the global demand for
food safety. Regulations dealing with the import and export
of food items are being implemented by BAHA's programmes,
such as Import Permits and Certification Programmes.
The Food Safety Department has been taking on the role of
educator in issues of food safety. This is done not only for
food processors but also for policymakers, technical officers
A public that is educated in issues surrounding food safety
is the key to the implementation of safe food safety practices.
A BAHA multi-disciplinary team will always be ready to promote
food safety education in your establishment: from the basics
of food safety to the latest on food safety technology.
food safety department actively pursues collaborative work
and liaisons with its international partners involved in food
safety. By seeking out and collaborating with those international
organizations that have a similar focus, BAHA can dovetail
their work programme to complement what food safety programmes
or tasks need to be done in the country with less duplication
of roles and effect conservation of scarce financial resources.
Many of the food safety programmes and plan of work established
by BAHA has been augmented and supported by international
organizations (e.g. FAO, WHO/PAHO,
OIRSA, IICA) having the same focus and wanting to achieve
similar goals. Partnering with these agencies avoids duplication
and strengthens collaborative efforts in food safety.
the Food Safety Department
Dr. Michael DeShield, Director
St. Joseph Street
Belize City, BELIZE