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The Belize Bureau of Standards is currently conducting a cell phone survey to capture information about warranties provided by selected establishments across Belize. Kindly click on the link to view the results for Belize City and San Ignacio collected in January 2014.
By: Lennox Nicholson, Consumer Protection Inspector, Belize Bureau of Standards
During the last quarter of 2013, the Bureau conducted a metrology survey that collected a wide range of information on the inventory and use of metrology equipment across the productive sector in Belize. The results show that of the 1865 equipment documented, 496 (26.6%) items are used to monitor/measure pressure. These equipment are used to measure fluid (water) and gas (primarily ammonia) pressure. Pressure equipment is prevalent across many sectors in Belize especially the food processing and agro-processing sectors. The bulk of pressure equipment in Belize can be found in power generating and refrigerating equipment used in activities such as citrus processing, shrimp processing and storage and fish processing.
The monitoring of pressure is rarely associated with food processing. However, its importance to these industries is derived from the essential role another indicator plays to these industries ie: temperature. The maintenance of appropriate temperature throughout the production process is essential to maintain product quality and safety. The equipment used to establish and maintain the optimum temperature in production and storage are power generating equipment and refrigeration equipment. In order to ensure that such machinery is functioning properly, pressure is a key indicator. If the proper ranges are not maintained during the operation of machinery, a failure may occur. Such machinery failure can inhibit the plant’s ability to maintain optimum temperatures leading to product loss or deterioration of product quality. Therefore, pressure is an essential indicator to the food processing and agro-productive sector. Given its importance to product quality and safety, it is essential that the readings obtained from the gauges and dials be accurate and reliable. In view of this, there can be no doubt that in the future, the BBS must develop the capacity to verify and calibrate pressure measuring equipment. This will go a long way to assist the productive sector in maintaining and enhancing the quality of its products.
By: Rodolfo Gutierrez, Consumer Protection & Liaison Officer, Belize Bureau of Standards
A National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) would be incomplete without its important elements which include the fields of Metrology, Standardization, Testing, and Quality Management including Certification and Accreditation. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on accreditation and its benefits to private sector, consumers and regulators.
Accreditation is a process that allows a business or person to be seen as a knowledgeable body that can carry out a specific task. This approval is provided by a respected organization (Accreditation Body) that recognizes that such a business has the systems in place to continually provide reliable and quality services or products.
Belize has increased its awareness on Accreditation and both private and public sector are buying into this concept. Importers of products and local producers realize that the market has become competitive and demanding thus requires selling and producing quality items. This can only be achieved if production processes and operations use approved standards or requirements. Service providers are no exception. Organizations like public/private medical laboratories, hospital, clinics and testing facilities are venturing into accreditation as being certified would mean that test results and procedures are more credible and trustworthy. A company that is certified shows the public that it has proper quality systems with which it can perform more efficiently. The business keeps itself at the top level of service and provides a guaranteed source of income for employees not to mention a secured job.
So what does accreditation means for business? Certainly the bottom-line will improve as customers and consumers will patronize to a greater extent, a certified service provider. However, several businesses becoming accredited will present more purchasing choices and options for consumers hence cost of service will have to be competitive. Consumers will know that products are physically safer and that those businesses have their interest at heart. Consumers move to a high quality level service and can expect an assurance that service quality provided by businesses meets or exceeds international standards. A society now becomes open minded to this change and the confidence in public purchasing increases.
This makes the job of the government or regulator easier. Regulators use accreditation as a way to reduce the uncertainties associated with regulatory decisions that affect the protection of human health and the environment. By businesses engaging in accredited certification will show governments that both private and public sector are following set standards and requirements. While governments and regulators may be busy setting overall policy requirements or detailed technical requirements, they can in turn depend on the accredited certification bodies in the private sector to monitor and evaluate compliance on their behalf. In this way, there will not be a need for regulators to have its own audit personnel thus eliminating duplication of audits.
Accreditation: Facilitates Trade
By: Lloyd Orellano, Standards Officer, Belize Bureau of Standards
International trade is the exchange of goods and services across international borders or territories. However, with the rapid increase in globalization the demand for a vast number and range of quality products and services is becoming more available to the consumer. Most of us would find it impossible to imagine a world where the choice of goods and services was limited to only those we can produce in our country. Despite all the varieties of products available, we still demand that the goods and services be of acceptable quality. How do we assure that the goods and services provided are safe and of acceptable quality?
International trade represents a large share of our gross domestic product which means that we must have the systems in place to ensure that these goods meet specified requirements of acceptable quality. In the same fashion, our exports must also meet the specified requirements in those exporting markets that we are involved in. In other words, as international trade has grown, so too has the number of national and international voluntary and mandatory technical regulations, standards, testing, inspection and certification procedures across all market sectors which apply to samples, products, services, management systems or personnel. The overarching system that ensures efficient and effective trade facilitation has to do with the existence of a national quality infrastructure which incorporates important pillars such as testing, standards, metrology, certification and accreditation. Generally, these pillars are introduced to meet the legitimate requirements of quality and safety that consumers, businesses, regulators and other organizations demand of goods and services, whatever their country of origin. Although we need to increase the movement of goods and services across borders, these legitimate requirements come along with the increase in global demands without causing undue risk to the health and security of individuals or the environment. Acknowledging challenging economic conditions, it is also vital that these requirements which can vary from country to country are not burdensome to businesses and that they do not represent technical barriers either to domestic markets or to export opportunities. Therefore one way of addressing technical barriers to trade would be via Accreditation. Accreditation works through a process of transparent and impartial evaluation of conformity assessment bodies (inspection, testing laboratories, etc) against internationally recognized standards and other requirements. Accredited conformity assessment is one tool that is helping businesses not only to comply efficiently and effectively with regulations and standards around the world but also to gain competitive advantage in the market and to expand into new markets. Gaining an Accreditation shows credible evidence of conformance with national and international standards and regulations which can differentiate a business from its competitors. Accreditation is recognized internationally and constantly markets are demanding more of this service therefore this can open doors overseas as well as those in the domestic market. Given the fact that the public and private sectors in domestic markets and trading partners are specifying accredited testing, inspection or certification as a precondition to conduct business, accreditation is necessary to facilitate trade.
Therefore it is imminent that we address these important pillars to support the continued movement of goods and services which is of huge importance not only to the health and wellbeing of consumers but also to the economic health of this country.