St Thomas Health Department promotes food safety
MORANT BAY, St Thomas
In an effort to continue its drive to promote food safety in the parish, the St Thomas Health Department recently held its Food Safety Awareness Fair at the Rudolph Elder Park in Morant Bay.
The fair was aimed at sensitising the public on issues of food storage, and industry standards for the manufacture, distribution and sale of food.
Patricia Bygrave, food safety coordinator for St Thomas, told Rural Xpress that the fair was a part of an educational drive across the parish to encourage health and safety, and to ensure that businesses in the parish were aware of world standards regarding distribution and sale of consumables to the public.
Booths erected for regulatory agencies, including the Bureau of Standards, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority, and the Consumer Affairs Commission, offered educational information, and services, while manufacturers and producers, including Seprod, G Lovers Orchard and Young Sang Bakery and Suprette displayed properly packaged and safe foods.
The Food Storage and Prevention of Infestation Division of the Ministry of Agriculture also displayed the proper way to store household foods, setting up demonstrations that showed the various pests and rodents that usually led to food contamination. Several containers with flour and rice, a commonly contaminated household item, showed evidence of insect droppings and larvae, and demonstrated what to look for when unsure of a product's safety.
The fair also emphasised to the public the five steps to food safety; keep clean, use safe water, separate raw and cooked food, cook food thoroughly and store foods at safe temperatures. A hand washing display was also set up with instructions on how to properly wash hands to prevent contamination.
Bygrave told Rural Xpress that the fair was complement to a health and safety project at the market, which encouraged vendors to properly preserve food while selling.
"We are educating vendors in the Morant Bay market on how important it is to offer fresh and safe produce to the public, and to keep food off the ground and uncontaminated." she said.
The St Thomas Health Department will continue the drive, with other awareness campaigns and planned visits to various businesses and areas in and around the parish to ensure compliance to health and safety practices.