Boston Jerk Centre closed over health violations
The internationally renown Boston Jerk Centre in Portland has suffered a major setback, following the closure of that facility by a team from the Ministry of Health.
The health ministry team cited, among other things, poor sanitation and preparation of meat which was not approved for human consumption.
"This comes as no surprise to me," said Derron Wood, who is seeking to represent the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in Eastern Portland.
"It cannot be that lovers of jerk pork must be subjected to some of the most unhealthy surroundings at a place that is internationally recognised. For far too long jerk men have been providing food to patrons with dirty finger nails. The practice of handling cooked meat with bare hands is a thing of the past, and it is high time that they (jerk men) improve on their standards."
Wood added: "They have been warned for many years now to ensure that soap and water is available at each stall, but those requests have been ignored. The Ministry of Health must be lauded for taking this decision."
An official at the health ministry, who asked not to be named, told The Gleaner that during a visit to the Boston Jerk Centre earlier this week, the jerk men were warned about the pending closure.
The health ministry official said that despite the warning, it was business as usual for the jerk men, who appeared to have made no attempt to improve the conditions and address the concerns which had been pointed out to them.
According to the ministry official, one of the major problems in relation to jerking of meat, was that pigs were being slaughtered and prepared for human consumption without being inspected and approved by a public health inspector.
Port Antonio Mayor Wayne McKenzie, who also weighed in on the matter, told The Gleaner yesterday that he was not informed about the shutdown, but was only made aware of the situation during a function for the opening of the Boston beach, which was also attended by Tourism Minister Wykeham McNeill.
"It is my belief that health-related issues were the main cause for the closure," commented McKenzie. "It is rather unfortunate that this has to take place, but nevertheless, it will serve as a wake-up call for those jerk men to make the necessary improvement, so as to enhance their operations," he said.
FOOD HANDLER'S PERMIT
In the meantime, jerk vendor Carven Anderson said the collapse of a septic pit at the front of the jerk centre was also a major concern highlighted by public health inspectors.
"I am also affected, as I was non-compliant in the area of not having a valid food handler's permit," Anderson admitted.
"However, I have since ensured that my workers, along with myself, are now fully compliant. That process was completed earlier today. We now have in our possession receipts for our food handler's permit and there was never an issue with tap water and soap, as that was already in place."
Approximately 10 jerk men and 20 other employees are affected by the closure.