Caption: Raymond Murenzi, Ag.director general of RSB during an interview. / Frederic Byumvuhore
By Frederic Byumvuhore
Each year on 14 October, the members of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) celebrate World Standards Day (WSD), which is a means of paying tribute to the collaborative efforts of the thousands of experts worldwide who develop the voluntary technical agreements that are published as international standards.
The theme for this year's WSD is “Standards Build Trust”.
Standards connect us with reliable modes of communication, codes of practice and trusted frameworks for cooperation. Introducing common interpretations on reciprocal sides of a communication or transaction, standards are essential to mutually beneficial trade and resource efficient international commerce.
About the 2016 Theme for Rwanda
For this year, Rwanda World Standards Day emphasis is laid on raising awareness on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control (HACCP), and the theme chosen is “Standards, the pillar of food security”.
HACCP is a system which identifies, evaluates and controls hazards which are significant for food safety. It is an effective tool to prevent adverse health effects (biological, chemical and physical hazards) due to food contamination.
RSB calls on Hospitality and food processing sector players to embrace HACCP for safer food
Rwanda’s rapidly growing hospitality and food processing sectors have led Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) to strengthen measures to enhance food safety for consumers. Rwanda Standards Board issuesstandard certificates to food processing companies in Rwanda and recently introduced the Hazard analysis and critical control (HACCP) system for food processors and hotels.
Rwanda Standards Board is today celebrating International Standards Day along with the rest of the world. The international theme for this year’s celebration is “standards build trust”. In Rwanda the day will be celebrated under the theme “standards the pillar of food security”
Developing standards and raising awareness
Rwanda Standard Board (RSB) has the mandate of developing standards and raising awareness about them, in addition to providing conformity assessments of testing and certification. By ensuring that companies comply with requisite standards, RSB is enhancing the competitiveness of Rwandan products and services to compete in the regional and international market.
According to Raymond Murenzi, Ag. Director General RSB, standards ensure fair trade and consumer protection.
In 2010, Rwanda adopted a National Quality Policy (NQP) to enable restructuring of the National Quality Infrastructure-Standardization, Conformity Assessment and Metrology services. Murenzi explains that the Quality Policy was established to enhance the national quality infrastructure which combines several services and help the country produce quality products and services.
There are main pillars of quality infrastructure such as standardization, metrology, and inspection testing and certification of services that help RSB develop standards.
The Board conducts awareness and marketing of standards, educate stakeholders on standards in order to guarantee the safety of products.
Also, RSB continues to build the capacity of the institution by investing in infrastructure laboratories to test the products to ensure that they meet standards to enable them compete with other products locally and internationally.
A system to control hazards
The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point System (HACCP) introduced by RSB aims at identifying, evaluating and controlling hazards which are significant for food safety.
Murenzi explains that the system is an effective solution to prevent adverse health effects that has effects due to food contamination. In addition, the system provides protection for manufacturers, food service businesses, and consumers from unsafe food.
The system helps processors to accurately find out all information about the origin of the food they are supplied with and how it was processed. Thanks to the system, unsafe food that has already been distributed to the market, can be recalled to prevent further harm to consumers. Processors can also use the system to identify weaknesses in their internal systems that could have resulted in unsafe foods getting into the market.
The system is exclusively meant for companies preparing or producing foods and medicines.
Murenzi said that the sytem is a special one for food industries or food businesses and pharmaceutical industries because food and pharceutical products have similar impacts on human health.
For all businesses in food industry,there is a HACCP scheme against which they can get their systems certified.The certification of HACCP is helpful during the audit and it can be used as marketing tool by the company.
RSB, in partnership with British standards Institute and Trade Mark East Africa, is implementing a project to advance standardization and the project brings together RSB stakeholders from food processing industries.
Rwanda Standards Board is currently focusing on hotels, restaurants among other food processing companies to advance the safety of food distributed.
Importance of HACCP for companies
HACCP is important for all companies in the food processing sector because there is a need to create an environment of trust. Companies that are HACCP certified can be easily recognized in the international market and is a requisite for all exporting companies.
Also, the system is likely to create a good reputation and boost customers’ confidence and trust towards the products. According to RSB there are testimonies from food processors in Rwanda whose revenues have increased as a result of the HACCP certification.
Rwanda’s hospitality sector is proving to be the leading domain of the service sector, and hotels among others in the food processing sector should comply with standards to ensure food safety for consumers.
Murenzi said that it is very crucial in RSB policy to boost hospitality in Rwanda and for country’s economic growth.
The Board regularly calls upon all stakeholders in the food processing sector to comply with HACCP and provides trainings on food standards, hygiene, and food safety management system to enhance consumer protection.
Call for companies
Murenzi said that Rwandan companies are capable of making their food safer and hence called all food processing companies, hotels and restaurant to embrace HACCP.
During today’s International Day Celebrations, RSB will conduct a workshop for food processing companies. The workshop has been deemed important due to the growth and potential of the food processing sector in Rwanda.