Crop-Over food watch
FOOD VENDORS and handlers will be under close scrutiny from health officials this Crop-Over.This is a concerted effort to prevent food poisoning and other food-borne illnesses, John Watts, principal environmental health officer at Warrens Polyclinic, told the WEEKEND NATION.Watts said he would be deploying 23 officers equipped with the necessary testing apparatuses to Junior Kadooment, Pic-O-De-Crop Semi-finals and on Kadooment Day.In some cases the officers would be examining foods being sold to the public.Health officers have the power to shut down vendors selling food deemed to be unfit for public consumption at those events, Watts said.In the past there had been some situations that raised concern about storage methods, he added. He advised that meat should be stored in small quantities.“We have been telling the stall owners that it is not good to season up foods and store them in large portions. “It takes too much time to defrost them and in that case, you will find generally that the organisms proliferate when you keep them out at room temperature for that long.“So we suggest that they be portioned in five-pound bags that can easily be stored and handled, rather than ten-pound or 20-pound portions,” Watts stated.Officers would also be discouraging the use of salads (with dressings, especially mayonnaise) in the open air.The senior health official also said that in terms of hygiene, nails should be short and clean, hair well controlled, and regular baths should be taken.“The organisms which cause food-borne illnesses are usually accompanying the person who is preparing the food . . . . “You must have clean clothing . . . . Don’t tell me that you worked at the Stadium the night before and you come the next morning in the same clothes. We encourage you to groom yourselves and have a bath,” he said.Watts said that when purchasing food during the Crop-Over season, Barbadians should look out for clean stalls and clean serving utensils.He added that they should observe the practices of the food handlers and ensure that those serving food properly washed their hands.“I am not one who promotes the use of gloves. My experience has shown me that when food handlers use gloves, they do not wash their hands.“We promote regular hand washing. We ensure that the National Cultural Foundation provides running water all around these areas, and [food handlers] have to utilise those facilities,” he said.