Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer
Western Bureau:AN EXECUTIVE of the Western Regional Health Authority (WRHA) says there are several challenges faced by the Ministry of Health in its push for full compliance with proper food-safety practices.
Dr Marcia Johnson Campbell, acting regional technical director of the WRHA, identified limited human resources as one of the challenges.
"Unlike in some jurisdictions, we are unable to fully dedicate officers to food safety as we have to be involved in other environmental programme areas as well," she said.
The absence of a centralised slaughtering facility in the region for butchers also impacts the health authority's meagre resources.
"We sometimes compromise proper meat-hygiene practices," said Johnson Campbell, as she lamented the limited resources available. "This is because officers are required to travel widely to do meat inspection."
Johnson Campbell said the ministry had a difficulty in getting compliance from villas and food shops, while monitoring establishments in inner-city communities has proven difficult for health inspectors.
"The need for food security has emerged as a national priority, as global economic and environmental forces combine to threaten long-term food supply and prices," she asserted.
"Food security for Jamaica will provide for adequate, safe food supplies for proper dietary requirements; and access to basic food items," she added.
MORE POSITIVE RESPONSE
She observed that the strategies employed by the ministry and other state agencies have resulted in a more positive response to food-safety guidelines.
According to Johnson Campbell, food safety must be a priority for all Jamaicans to realise the dream of the island becoming the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.
Johnson Campbell was speaking yesterday at the final session of a two-day International Food Safety Conference of the Food Hygiene Bureau at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay.
The conference was staged against the background of the new laws implemented by the United States to protect their citizens from contaminated food.