St James health department taking a vigilant stance - Wallace
In light of recent food security concerns, which were sparked by the Government's ban on corned beef imported from Brazil, Lennox Wallace, the chief public health inspector for St James, said his department will be taking extra precaution to ensure the safety of local and imported meat.
"We continue here in St. James to visit the various meat shops and supermarkets to ensure that the food being offered for sale meets government standards by way of inspection, and that the public would have seen the government stamp by which meati s inspected and passedb y the Government of Jamaica," Wallace told The Gleaner yesterday.
Last week, the St. James Health Department and officers from the Jamaica Constabulary Force's Praedial Larceny Prevention Unit carried out an operation at the Charles Gordon Market in Montego Bay, during which approximately 750 pounds of uninspected and unstamped meat was confiscated.
The meat seizure from that exercise came on the heels of the recent ban on corned beef products, which was implemented by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.
The ban follows reports that meat processors in Brazil - from which 99.5 per cent of the product is imported by Jamaica are currently under investigation for allegedly selling rotten meat over a number of years.
...No official slaughterhouse in MoBay, says health inspector
According to Lennox Wallace, the chief public health inspector for St James, the lack of an official slaughterhouse in the parish has led to the need to import meat from other countries and the establishment of smaller designated areas for slaughtering animals, which in turn necessitates careful screening.
"Montego Bay does not have an abattoir [slaughterhouse], but what would have replaced the abattoir is the increased importation of meat from overseas, North America to be specific," said Wallace.
"We have officials that are stationed at the wharfs 24 hours a day, both at seaports and airports, to ensure that all meats that are coming into the country meet public-health regulations," said Wallace.
Concerning the smaller designated slaughter areas, Wallace said that butchers have a schedule for slaughtering, which his department uses as a guide for inspection.
"They (butchers) have various days and times of day, under the law, to do butchering, and we would have persons going into the area a day before to do ante-mortem inspection, and the day after when slaughtering is done, to inspect and ensure that these meats actually meet public- health standards," he said.