The major regional export markets including those of the European Union and North America are demanding that the safety and quality of food products reaching their markets be equivalent to or at higher levels as those produced in their own regions. Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures can enable the attainment of  this acceptable levels of food safety and quality.

These measures form an important pillar of agricultural trade competitiveness.  The lack of or inadequacy as well as non-enforcement of these measures have posed significant problems for all countries, but especially so for those of the poorer developing regions such as CARICOM. Their implications for trade are more serious given the growing demand for increased food safety, heightened public interest and awareness of the consequences of food borne-related illnesses.  As a result, consumers are showing unprecedented interest in how their food supplies are produced, processed and distributed. There are increased calls for the relevant competent authorities to accept greater responsibility to ensure food safety and by extension, the safeguarding of public health and the enhancement of trade.

Factors contributing to potential hazards in foods include improper agricultural practices, poor personnel hygiene and lack of preventive controls at the various critical points of the food chain. Other factors include chemical misuse, contaminated water supplies, contaminated raw material and waste material.

With the establishment of CAHFSA, a regional approach will be taken, aimed at establishing an integrated Agricultural Health and Food Safety Regime which will operate in collaboration with implemented national policies aimed at achieving high levels of food safety, thereby enhancing regional agricultural trade competitiveness, advancing environmental protection while safeguarding pubic health of Member States.