JIS News

Food items have been condemned and seized islandwide, as the Ministry of Health steps up its effort to monitor food-handling establishments in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan.
In the parish of Portland, for example, 11,699 kilograms of food items have been condemned. The categories of food condemned run the gamut from meat products to bottled and boxed drinks.
Speaking to JIS News, Peter Knight, Director of Environmental Health in the Ministry of Health, praised the team of inspectors, who were out in full force visiting the food-handling establishments, which include warehouses, cold storage facilities, supermarkets, wholesale businesses and restaurants, among others.
“They are doing an extremely good job. A number of establishments have been inspected and, condemnation and seizure of foods have also taken place,” he said. Some establishments have even been closed based on the interventions by the inspectors. In Kingston and St. Andrew, three wholesale businesses have been closed.
“Some establishments have not been in compliance with the public health requirements, so they have to be closed,” Mr. Knight pointed out.
“The public needs to know and understand that they are being protected, and that action is taking place to protect them from purchasing food that is not fit for public consumption,” he added.
The Director noted that the levels of condemnation and seizures were higher in some parishes than others. For example, in the Corporate Area and St. James, there have been several seizures.
“It is not about the cost or the quantity that has been seized. It is about the fact that teams have been working assiduously to ensure that the public is not exposed to foodbourne illnesses,” he explained.In the meantime, the Director is urging consumers to play their part to ensure their own safety, by paying special attention to the food that they purchased and prepared at home.
“The simple fact is that we know that floods in combination with lack of electricity are responsible for widespread spoilage and contamination of foods, and we do not want to expose members of the population to food that is not safe,” he informed.
As part of the guidelines issued by the Ministry, consumers are being advised to ensure that the food purchased is neither spoilt nor contaminated.”Where you see visible dirt or the food is soiled, spoilage has begun. Persons need to refrain from buying those products,” he advised. Consumers should be careful when purchasing items such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy products and other perishable foods. These should be purchased from reliable outlets.
In terms of food safety around the house, persons should ensure that they use safe water to prepare food, wash utensils, and for drinking. “Practise proper hand washing before eating and after using the toilet,” the Director advised.
For persons eating out, Mr. Knight warned consumers to be vigilant. “Make sure that the food is prepared under safe conditions, so that you are not exposed to unnecessary risk from unsafe food,” he said.
Persons are urged to contact the Ministry of Health or their parish health department, if they know of questionable food being offered for sale.