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EDITORIAL: Enforcing safety standards

marciadottin, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Enforcing safety standards

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OUTRAGEOUS is perhaps the nicest way to describe the angry response of some vendors at the Bridgetown Fisheries Complex following enforcement of regulations to ensure they meet safety standards.
Hopefully, by now – a week later – those objecting would have reflected on their illogical arguments, since we cannot continue to hold on to bad old ways.
Tradition and custom are understandable in connection with certain things, and this certainly has been the case with the selling of fish at various points across the island. Change for the better will, however, be a necessity as this country raises its standards. It must be all about better handling and the best food safety measures.
We have for far too long looked the other way when it comes to doing things the right way at our fishing ports. Common sense and awareness of the various illnesses that can be caused as a result of the improper handling of fish necessitate that we do better and stop ignoring potential problems.
The vendors themselves while condemning the enforcement of the regulations highlighted several problems at the markets which could turn away customers who want to buy fish in a clean and safe environment. But rather than adding to them, the vendors should demand that they be corrected urgently.
Increasingly across the world we hear of mass food contamination incidents and food recalls often due to improper hygiene and failure to comply with food and safety regulations. In Barbados one hears of many cases, even if anecdotal, of food poisoning because of “bad fish”.
It can be both an unpleasant and dangerous experience.
This country must be grateful to its health inspectors for the work that they are doing at the public markets. They must ensure that the standards are met and maintained not only at the major outlets but at the minor ones and with those vendors who still sell along some roads.
There must be no backing down in the enforcement of standards. No angry display of bad behaviour must prevent enforcement of standards and there must be no let-up in the efforts to ensure food safety requirements are observed.
This is necessary if we are to meet strict domestic and international standards and have a reputation for high-quality, fresh, reliable seafood.
It is evident that neither the fishermen nor those cleaning and selling the commodity can police themselves. This is the job of trained public health officials, who must press ahead with the job of making it safer and better for the consumer. Market and public health inspectors must also protect misguided fish sellers from themselves.
Barbadian consumers must feel confident with both the quality and safety of the seafood sold at the various fish vending areas across the island.