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Look out for contaminated food, MoBay warned - Caution issued after flooded business caught drying rice, flour for sale

Published:Monday | December 4, 2017 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas


Following the recent rains that resulted in major flooding in some sections of Montego Bay, Lennox Wallace, the chief public health inspector for St James, is warning residents to be vigilant in their purchase of food items so as to avoid buying potentially contaminated food.

In an interview with The Gleaner yesterday, Wallace said that while 24 out of 36 food establishments in downtown Montego Bay have been given the green light to reopen for business, it has come to the attention of the health department that some wholesalers might be trying to put contaminated food back on the market.

"Some of these wholesalers are hiding some foods, some in their attics and even on their roofs ... . We found foods that they are putting in the sun to offer for sale, and we seized those and condemned them," said Wallace.

"We are telling the public that when they are being offered food for cheaper prices, please examine what they are purchasing and to call us if they suspect that any foods do not meet public-health requirements," added Wallace.

In giving an example of a business operator who seemingly tried to beat the system, Wallace said that the health department had allowed an establishment to reopen but ordered it closed again when it was discovered that the operators were preparing to return flood-exposed food to their shelves.


Follow-up inspections


"One of the facilities that reopened on Strand Street, we went back there to do a reinspection and it had to be closed, because we found numerous amounts of rice and flour on the roof of the facility being dried, to be placed back in the food chain," said Wallace. "Up until right now, we are still doing routine follow-up inspections, and working to recertify the other properties that are still closed."

Following the flood rains, several businesses in Montego Bay had to temporarily close their doors and carry out clean-up exercises, which included discarding contaminated food stuff.

So as to prevent any contamination of the food chain, the health department made it mandatory for the affected businesses to receive the public health re-certification before they could reopen for business.