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.