Tue | Apr 24, 2018

$8 million worth of flood-exposed food destroyed in St James

Published:Friday | January 5, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas
Wallace

WESTERN BUREAU:

Over the past month, the St James Health Department has seized and condemned $8 million worth of foodstuff that was exposed to floodwaters when sections of Montego Bay were inundated by heavy rains last November.

Lennox Wallace, the chief public health inspector for St James, told The Gleaner yesterday that the health department has conducted four operations, where persons were found cleaning flood-exposed food to be put back on the market, with the most recent seizure taking place at a warehouse in Freeport on Tuesday.

"This is the fourth incident of seizure ... and it would be $8 million worth of goods that we have got already. On Tuesday, we seized $3 million worth of goods, and summonses were served, and we will be taking these persons to court," said Wallace.

"In the last incident, we conducted an investigation of a large warehouse in Freeport, and we have evidence of persons in that warehouse washing food and drinks and placing them on trucks to transport back to the wholesales and to [sell to] the unsuspecting public."

According to the health inspector, some of the wholesalers supplement their fresh goods with flood-exposed items that have been cleaned.

"When we recertify these places, facilities that have brand-new goods, they supplement them with the goods that were contaminated, and it is cruel to do so. Most of the establishments that were inundated, we had in that vicinity a sewerage line that was broken, so to mask these foods among new ones that you are getting, it shows contempt of the unsuspecting public," said Wallace.

Following November's flood rains, several businesses in Montego Bay had to temporarily close their doors and carry out clean-up exercises, including the disposal of contaminated food items.

Of the 36 food establishments that were affected by the flooding, eight remain closed.