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Water Square cookshops a ticking time bomb - Falmouth resident

Published:Monday | December 19, 2016 | 12:00 AMLeon Jackson

Western Bureau:

Patricia Green, a resident of Falmouth in Trelawny, is hopping mad. She is both worried and concerned about the illegal cookshops operating in the pedestrianised section of Water Square in Falmouth on weekends.

Green, who considers the situation to be a ticking time bomb, told The Gleaner that she got the scare of her life recently when she observed cooking being done just metres from the petrol station in Water Square.

"The wind was blowing the sparks from the fire all over the place," said Green. "Some of the sparks were actually floating into the gas station."

Last Friday night, The Gleaner visited the historic square and it was chock-full of vendors marketing a variety of goods and services. Numbered among them were the operators of the illegal cookshops.

It should be noted that the sanitary convenience in proximity to the square closes at 10 p.m., which make hygiene an issue. At the time of The Gleaner's visit, many persons, including those who were cooking and serving, went off into nearby streets to urinate.

When the matter was brought to the attention of Dr Diahann Dale, medical officer of health for Trelawny, she said she was aware of complaints being made regarding the public-health breaches taking place in the square.

Delroy Mowatt, acting chief public health officer for Trelawny, told The Gleaner that he had visited the location and was now taking action.

"I observed several breaches," said Mowatt, in explaining what he had observed. "There were vendors selling food without food handler's permit. Some had, but they were expired, some had inadequate setup for the washing of hands, while others were just cooking within the square open to everything the open air could bring."

On account of what he saw, Mowatt said notices were served on those who were operating in breach for them to fall into compliance or face being ordered closed. He said he has since observed effort by some persons to register for public-health courses, which is a requirement to be issued a food handler's permit.

King, another public health officer, said steps will taken to ensure that those persons selling cooked food in the square, including those preparing meals at their homes, are employing proper health standards.

"We will be visiting their homes unannounced to ensure that meals are being prepared according to public-health requirements," said King.