JIS News

The Food Storage and Prevention of Infestation Division in the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, continues to step up its inspection of warehouses and ports of entry, to ensure the safety and wholesomeness of all foods, beverages and animal feeds entering the island.
Speaking with JIS News, Chief Food Storage Officer, Roy McNeil, explained that businesses were importing large quantities of food and animal feed in preparation for a hurricane, therefore it is the Division’s responsibility to inspect these foods to ensure that they are not of an inferior quality and will not expire within a short period of time before passing them on to consumers.
Continuing, he noted that it was mandatory that all goods for consumption by both humans and animals, whether imported or donated, be tested. Tests are frequently carried out on food items, including rice, peas and beans, sugar and cornmeal. These products are mainly checked for insects, bacteria, and fungi.
Upon completion of the first phase of testing, he noted that the Inspectorate Unit is then called in to conduct the second phase of testing. From this sampling, if insects are observed, the insect count may determine whether or not the batch is condemned.
On the inspection of beverages, Mr. McNeil revealed that a microbiology and physical examination must first take place.
“We look for discoloration and pesticide residue, but normally, beverages do not pose a problem once they have not expired. However, an analysis of all imported beverages must be done,” he noted.
The Division also offers services, such as dis-infestation, training in proper food storage and rat proofing, fumigation and rodent proofing of establishments.
“The Rodent Biology Unit plays a very fundamental role during the hurricane season in sterilising establishments. This is necessary because during the rains, rats are flooded out of their burrows, then they try to take up residence in food establishments, especially those that are not rodent proof,” Mr. McNeil explained.
“We have a zero tolerance approach with rodent infestation. If we find premises with rodents, the food will be condemned or dumped. We have the power to detain the contents therein, which may result in a closure of the establishment,” he added.
Additionally, the division has the authority to serve statutory orders on all establishments which must comply. Non-compliance will be treated as breaches against the law. If a breach has occurred, prosecution will follow and penalties will include one-year imprisonment at hard labour and/or a fine of up to $1 million.