HACCP logo

Companies that are growing and expanding into new markets will face this question at some point in time.  Most start-up food businesses do not even consider the implementation of HACCP in the initial stages of their operations.  Start-up business owners are at that time generally focused on marketing their business in order to reach potential customers, increasing their revenue and trying to manage their cash flow so that they can continue to be sustainable.  Eventually though, as market share increases, particularly as the business offerings and products reach international markets, the food company will have to deal with the legal requirements of their new markets, which often includes HACCP implementation.

But what exactly is HACCP?  Well, HACCP stands for Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point and is an internationally-recognized food safety management system for assuring food safety in the production of food items, whether the food is packaged as is done by food manufacturers or ready-to-eat as is normally the case for food service establishments, such as restaurants.  HACCP requires that a food company examines its production process for potentially harmful/hazardous steps and implement preventative or control measures to reduce or eliminate the risk of harm to the consumer.

At this time, the implementation of HACCP by food companies is not a legal requirement in Trinidad and Tobago.  As a result, many local food processing and food service facilities may feel that there is no justifiable need to implement such a system since they are not legally bound to do so.  However, all companies operating in Trinidad and Tobago have a social responsibility to ensure that their products and activities do not harm the consumer.  Based on this premise, it can be suggested that the implementation of HACCP or any similar food safety management system by local food establishments is simply such companies fulfilling their social obligations even if a legal one has not been imposed by the State.

Nevertheless, when discussing HACCP, the cost of implementation, as it relates to time, staff and financial resources, cannot be ignored and is likely to be one of the main reasons food establishments are reluctant to pursue HACCP unless required by local or international laws.  However, food business owners should be reminded that implementing HACCP in your food facility can bring many benefits that can readily translate into increased revenue.  These benefits include:

    • Better control of products and raw materials which translates to less wastage and money saved.  Imagine how much money is wasted when food products are poorly manufactured or prepared and have to be disposed of as a result of poor quality and safety.  Additionally, raw materials that are not food safe oftentimes cannot be transformed into foods that are safe and of a high standard.
    • Consider for example, a restaurant cooking a chicken that was received from the supplier at room temperature rather than cold or frozen.  Meats stored at room temperature will begin to spoil from high bacterial growth and from the development of off-flavors and off-textures.  Consequently, even when cooked, the chicken can still contain harmful bacteria, and the taste and texture may not be to the liking of the customers.  The result is that the restaurant, out of consideration for its customers will have to dispose of the chicken as waste.  A HACCP program would require that the restaurant only uses chicken that was received cold or frozen and thus wastage is avoided and food safety assured.
    • HACCP in a food business fosters customer confidence which means that customers will buy more of your food since they trust your food’s safety and quality.  It is not difficult to realize that this also means an increase in sales for the company.  The company can increase the population’s awareness of the assured safety of its products by including the highlighting of its HACCP system in its marketing plan and branding its products and facility with its HACCP certification.
    • HACCP implementation allows food businesses, such as food manufacturers and processors, to export to international markets that require food safety management systems implementation.  

In recent years, the local food and beverage sector has had to deal with the challenges of changing food safety requirements to international market standards, such as the USA and Canada.  Unfortunately, too many of our local food manufacturers were unprepared for the requirement of working food safety management systems and are facing the loss of profitable markets or finding themselves in a mad scramble to implement HACCP or similar food safety management systems.  In both scenarios, companies no longer have the option to spread the cost of HACCP implementation over the medium to long-term, but instead find themselves having to spend significant sums in the short-term or lose valuable revenue.

Additionally, food manufacturers who supply international food service franchises, such as KFC, McDonalds, Wendy’s, Burger King and so on, are required by these franchises to have HACCP systems implemented in their food facilities.  Without an established and effective HACCP system, companies that wish to supply food items to Trinidad and Tobago’s burgeoning numbers of international fast food and restaurant franchises will find themselves classified as unsuitable and thus the potential for increased revenue will not be theirs.

It is hoped that based on the information provided about HACCP and its benefits, local food businesses will realize that whether or not they implement HACCP in their companies, there is still a cost.  The question therefore is ‘which price is your company willing to pay?’

CARIRI’s Biotechnology Unit recently hosted a one day workshop on an “Introduction to HACCP” on Friday 24th March 2017 at our Centre for Enterprise Development, Innovation Avenue, Freeport which was well attended by over 50 participants. The workshop was designed to provide an understanding of the seven principles of HACCP in detail.

For more information on our Biotechnology services or to register for future workshops, please contact Ms. Jessica Ramoutar at 299-0210 ext. 5687/ 310-4529 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Have a great idea to develop a world class mobile app? How is it going to be built? What are the important factors to consider while creating an app? As of 2015, there are 4.43 billion mobile users around the world and the number is likely to reach to 5.07 billion by 2019. There are almost 1.6 million Android apps  in Google Play Store and  1.5 million iOS apps in the Apple App Store.

The statistics show that the demand of mobile apps are consistently rising. Developers need to ensure that the mobile apps they are developing are useful, easy to use and above all desired by the users. Here are some key areas developers can consider before developing mobile applications:

·     Market Research - Before starting the development of an app consider conducting a proper market research. Analyzing the market will give insights about competitors' strategy,  strengths and weakness. This information will assist to avoid repeating the mistakes competitors made.

  • Be Different - Why does a recently opened restaurant in the town create a buzz? People tend to visit new places because they are always looking for something different and fresh. Create something interesting that keep  users engaged.
  • Target Audience - Defining the target audience is very important as the audience plays a huge impact on the development of the mobile app. If user’s expectations are met, the app is likely to get more popularity.
  • Mastering Platforms - Become a master of one platform first and then launch the mobile app on multiple platforms.
  • Marketing Strategy - Creating that buzz before the launch is really important to get an overwhelming response at the time of launch. Ensure the marketing is began at the appropriate time. 
  • Loading Indicators - An app can lose users while it is loading as the users might think that the app is malfunctioning. Also, it adds to create a negative impression on the user, hence providing a bad user experience. Use loading indicators and animations to give assurance that the mobile app is still working (a progressive indicator is always better).
  • App Testing -  It is important to test the  mobile app before launch in the market. It provides an experience in prior of how the users will see the app. It should be creative, easy to understand and deliver high performance. Testing before the launch will allow for ironing out any nooks and crannies before it reaches the mass market.
  • Store Description - This description plays an important role. App Stores usually displays only 2-3 lines of the description. Users need to tap on "Read More" to read the full description, hence it is important to make the first 2-3 lines attractive enough to convert users into customers.

The Centre for Enterprise Development (CED) is a flagship development of CARIRI which is aimed at facilitating Research, Development and Innovation. The mCentre arm of CED is the only mobile applications laboratory and accelerator in the region which incubates high potential mobile app developers. The lab provides world class business and technical training to high potential individuals on mobile application development and entrepreneurship on all platforms.

The mCentre operates a mobile applications testing facility referred to as the Living Lab, which provides testing services on all mobile application platforms:  Android, iOS, and Windows. Using appropriate tests and tools which provide an indication as to where improvements to functionally, usability or user experience can be made to the mobile application.

Call us at 299-0209 ext 2677 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.  

Before you spend a lot of time creating a product or service, it is important to know whether anyone will want to buy it and if there is a need for it. The first step therefore to getting your product to market is conducting market research. Do products that are similar to your idea exist? If so, where are they sold? Who is buying them? Answering these questions will give an idea of the target market, as well as, what needs to be done differently to stand out from competitors. Even well known companies engage in conducting market research. Take for example Lego which has been a toy geared toward boys for many years. In a study done by the company, it was reported that only 9% of the primary users of the toy were female. Upon seeing this, the company decided to come out with a new product to entice more girls to play with Legos. Market research was undertaken and upon conclusion, Lego came out with a new line of toys on January 1st, 2012 called 'Friends'. The colours used were more vibrant and figurines were made slightly bigger to accommodate accessories such as hairbrushes and purses.

Another important step in taking the idea forward is assessing the novelty of the idea. It is crucial to ensure that your idea is not infringing upon someone else's intellectual property. Intellectual property refers to the expressed creation of the human mind and includes patents, trademarks, copyright and industrial designs.  A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention which is a product or a process that either provides a new way of doing something or offers a new technical solution to a problem. The television for example was invented by John Baird in 1925. (US Patent No. 1699270). Another example is the computer mouse invented by Douglas Engelbert in 1970 (US Patent No. 3,541,541). An industrial design is the ornamental aspect of a useful article. The shapes of many ergonomically designed pieces of furniture, tools, tool handles, boat hulls and sunglasses for example are some of the shapes protected by an industrial design. Another form of intellectual property protection is trademark which is a sign capable of distinguishing the goods or services of one trader from those of other traders. Copyright is a property right, which subsists in literary and artistic works that are original intellectual creations. Works covered by copyright include novels, poems, plays, computer programmes, paintings, drawings, photographs and musical compositions.

The third step in taking your idea to market is the development of a demonstration model or pretotype. Many times persons spend significant time and money in developing a fully fledged prototype, only to realize that there is little or no demand for their product. What can be done instead is a simple cost effective mockup which shows the idea in operation and can be made with easily accessible items, for example, paper clips, scotch tape, cardboard. 3D printing can also be done.

Once the market demand has been confirmed and the legal path is clear, there are two pathways to commercialization. The first pathway is business start-up, this means the individual creates and sell the product himself/herself. This may include paying a third party to manufacture the product. The second pathway is via licensing. Many persons do not have the resources to get a business off the ground and may therefore decide to exploit the expertise of an existing company, in terms of market experience, distribution channels and manufacturing to commercialize the idea. The risk of starting a company is traded for a royalty payment or a percentage that the company generates from the sale of the product.

CARIRI has recognized that there are many persons with innovative ideas but do not know how to move their ideas forward. The Idea Advisory Service (IAS) is a platform through which persons can submit their ideas confidentially for screening. The IAS:-

1. Assesses novelty of the idea and advises on which intellectual property tool would be the most relevant in securing the idea;

2. Evaluates market demand and identifies and strengthens the benefits of the idea to the target market;

3. Assists in the development of a pretotype where necessary;

4. Identify and networks with potential licensees;

5. Negotiates licensing agreements.

CARIRI provides an extensive range of services and facilities to serve a wide range of industries and has existing networks within our reach, including the World Association of Industrial and Technological Research Organizations (WAITRO) of which CARIRI is a founding member.

For more information about the IAS, visit www.cariri.com and click on IAS - Idea Submission Form or contact us at 299-0209 ext 2210. 

Failure Analysis is the process of using analytical laboratory techniques, expert scientific interpretations, and failure mode analysis to identify the root cause of a failure in a part, assembly, material, or system.  A failure could arise not only as a broken component, but also includes rejected parts from a manufacturing line, lack of performance of an equipment or system. The root cause of a failure could even include management related issues.

The initial step to perform a failure analysis investigation begins with visually studying the failed part and asking detailed questions regarding associated parts, plant environment and operational procedure. A summary of the investigation steps is shown hereunder:

  • Collection of background data and selection of samples (service history and conditions)
  • Preliminary examination of the failed part
  • Complete metallurgical analysis of failed material (mechanical properties, chemical composition).
  • A through examination of the failed part including Macroscopic and Microscopic examination and analysis (electron microscopy). This includes fractographic analysis.
  • Analysis of fracture mechanics (shear, brittle or ductile).
  • Evidence Interpretation, formulation of conclusions and writing of final report (Including recommendations).

Some tests may include Hardness Testing, Weld Examination, Case Depth, Decarburization Measurement, Coating/Plating Evaluation, Surface Evaluation and/ or Grain Size Determination, inclusions density, morphology and type, compound analysis, microprobe analysis, etc. Typically these tests are conducted by strictly following test methods from internationally recognised organizations such as ASTM, BS, ISO, etc.

Investigation of failures in polymeric type materials (plastics) requires tests specific to this type of material. This includes Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectrometry, Energy Dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS), and thermo-mechanical analysis (TMA).

The main factors that relate to failure of components are Material, Design, Manufacturing Process and Service Condition, the last being the most common cause. The Service Condition factor also includes how the component was used, if it was abused or if it was just inadequate for the given task.

The most frequent failure mechanisms observed are:

  • Corrosion in its different forms (pitting, crevice, aerated cell, filiform, Galvanic Cell, etc).
  • Fatigue
  • Hydrogen embrittlement
  • Stress corrosion cracking (SCC)

CARIRI’s Metallurgy Unit

Metallurgy is the science and technology of metals. It involves analyzing the physical and mechanical properties of metals and examining how they are affected by composition, mechanical working and heat treatment.

At CARIRI’s Metallurgy Unit, our customers are our foremost concern. Our highly experienced and qualified personnel, as evidenced by our 40 years in the industry, have allowed us to treat with our clients’ most basic test requirements, as well as their more technologically advanced needs, with the same dedication and accuracy. We do this through our superior knowledge, equipment, expertise, quality certification and international accreditation.

We deliver first-class service based on excellence and expertise. We are leaders in finding solutions due to our well-established international connections and relationships, the innovations we have implemented, and our decades of experience.  Our goal is to find “the best way” for our clients - not merely the easiest or quickest solution.

We work closely with our customers to provide service solutions that manage risk and reduce cost, while ensuring health and safety compliance at an internationally accredited level and quality.

We offer a wide range of tests and services that is comparable with established laboratories anywhere else in the world.

These include:

  • Failure Analysis of Mechanical Components
  • Corrosion Assessment & Prevention of Coatings and Components
  • Mechanical Testing of Material

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Image 1: Nickel-sulphide inclusion found embedded in a high rise building glass pane that caused its complete shattering.

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Image 2: Failed offshore natural gas compressor piston due to improper plating of surface

Contact Information:

Caribbean Industrial Research Institute (CARIRI)
Trincity West Industrial Estate,
Macoya.
Telephone: 285-5050 ext. 3110
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Risk Management is not a new subject and it is not one that should be ignored, especially by companies in the Food and Beverage Industry.  Risk management’s overall objective is to assure the organization that uncertainty does not deflect from the effort of achieving the business goals.  Nothing should be more important to the food industry than protecting their customers and employees. To this end, there are a number of requirements for facilities and processes that are highly specific and targeted at food safety. However, food and beverage facilities are often wet places in which to work, which introduces a crucial consideration for people safety – Slip Resistance. In general a slip occurs when there is a loss in traction between the walking surface and the shoe; or contact with another object. If the slip extends for more than a few inches it may lead to a fall.

The considerations to risk management for areas where wet operations occur are different from dry operations and are more critical when focusing on slip resistance. For the food and beverage industry, proper sanitation is needed to control bacteria growth, remove contamination and prevent slippery floors. More often than not people associate rough floors with slip resistance, and shiny or polished floors with slippery floors. While this may hold true for some surfaces,a roughly textured surface can increase the traction on a floor/walkway, but that can however impede the effectiveness of a cleaning regime. A compromise is therefore needed to achieve adequacy for both slip resistance as well as ease of cleaning.

The Cycle of Walkway Management emphasizes 5 aspects: Design, Plan, Build, Maintain, Insure. A slip can result in minor damage to a person or property; or on the other extreme a slip can result in serious injury or death. The risk of injury or death to a person whether employee or customer is unacceptable and should be given priority from as early as the design stage for a facility.A food and beverage facility, whether engaged in processing, packaging or retail sales will at some point require people or equipment traffic within the operations area for actual operations, maintenance or cleaning purposes.

It is the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the safety, health and welfare atwork of all hisemployees. The OSH Act stipulates that employers are to ensure that as far as reasonably practical, persons not in his employment are not exposed to risks for their safety and health.

Food and beverage facilitiesshould therefore be so designed to allow operations and maintenance processes to occur without incident and in an optimal way. The design should take into consideration the type of activities, materials/products and the environment. For instance materials such as powders, flours, oils and liquids are easily capable of creating slippery surfaces. The floors in areas with these and similar products must therefore be designed and maintained to accommodate safe work in the area. The floors themselves are to be even and have clear access;proper stairway and ramp design and inclusion of guard and hand rails are among the items that encompass a comprehensive walkway design.

The selection of flooring surfaces as mentionedmust address both food safety and people (customer and employee) safety. Apart from safety, the flooring finish can have an effect on productivity. This can be evaluated by determining how often maintenance has to be done on the floors, the duration of the maintenance and the downtime of operations to facilitate this. With usage and harsh cleaning processes the surface of your floor can become worn thereby reducing traction and creating floors with a higher potential for slippage. In the cleaning processes, the types of chemicals used can leave residues that are not visible but can be slippery. Coatings and polishes that are placed on the floors all have some effect on the slip resistance of the floors. Whether they are intended to add some layer of protection to the underlying surface, increase traction or purely for aesthetics, you should know how the application affects the floor to ensure a reduced risk of slips. 

Are you a food or beverage producer, processor, packager or retailer? Are your products frozen, greasy, powdery or liquid?

Do you own or operate a bakery, restaurant or food establishment?

At CARIRI we are now trained and ready to assess the slip resistance of floor tiles before and after installation to verify the coefficient of friction. These values will allow you to assess whether the tile is appropriate for use to avoid slips. We can also conduct walkway audits for instances where you have had slips, or even areas of concern.  We want to help you reduce your risks of accidents and incidents related to floor safety. Don’t set yourself up to being sued for a slip and fall accident. Reduce your risk by managing it proactively!

Our Caribbean Food Safety Centre is outfitted to address your food safety concerns and can guide you through the HACCP Process.

Our goal is to help you make your operations and facility safer!

For more information, please contact out Industrial Materials Unit – Civil at 285-5050 ext 3190 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


 


 

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