UWI responds to food-handling incident
OFFICIALS AT THE Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies have responded to reports surrounding the “bleaching” of food by a health inspector during an activity held by the Antigua and Barbuda Student Association.
Initial reports said the students were told by the health inspector their food did not meet the regulatory temperature. Despite a request for time to allow the food to heat up via the food warmers, the inspector declined the request.
In addition, the inspector condemned the food, told the students it was now “the property of the Ministry of Health” and after an ensuing argument, doused all the food in bleach.
The full statement below was issued yesterday:
“Attention has been drawn to local and regional media reports about the condemning of food intended for sale by the Antigua, Barbuda Student Association (ABSA) at The University of the West Indies (UWI) Cave Hill campus, which was deemed unfit for human consumption by the Barbados health authorities.
The UWI wishes to note that the Ministry of Health is the ultimate authority on health and safety standards.
Health and safety guidelines provided to students are as a result of an ongoing relationship with the Ministry of Health to ensure that there are no public health threats resulting from the sale of food on campus.
When students are assessed by the Student Health Clinic for food handlers’ certificates, they are advised to make sure they know the health regulations that govern their events. The requirements are also discussed at the Student Activity planning meetings with the various clubs and societies.
The regulations are detailed on the Office of Student Services website and students are required to review the information in preparation for an event. For example, it is noted that: “Wherever food or beverages are, you need one of these, see Food Handlers application process and remember to comply with the guidelines by the Ministry of Health. See Food Safety Booklet.”
On Tuesday, September 22, 2015, a health official attached to the Brandford Taitt Polyclinic, visited the campus to oversee the set up and display for the students’ food distribution and sale at a cultural event. She expressed concern that they had not complied with prescribed protocols to facilitate the safe handling of food.
When brought for distribution, the food was not at the required temperature and it was deemed unsafe to reheat to an ideal safe zone for consumption, given some of the ingredients. In an effort to safeguard the public, the food was seized, condemned and destroyed.
The officer pointed out that there had been an incident on campus approximately two years ago where 60 students became ill as a result of food distributed for a breakfast event, and was therefore exercising vigilance.
The officer met with ABSA members to provide a rationale for the condemnation of their food. Representatives of the University administration and Guild of Students were present.
Environmental Health Officers from the Ministry of Health are scheduled to meet with all the Island Associations, Clubs and Societies to educate students about food preparation, handling and distribution, tomorrow, Friday, September 25, 2015.
They plan to simulate the conditions under which food is usually sold on campus by student groups to facilitate their understanding of what is required. That meeting had been arranged prior to Tuesday’s incident.
This is an isolated incident which the University truly regrets. Our students stage many events involving food annually, under the watchful eye of the Office of Student Services.
It is the UWI’s desire to produce responsible citizens, respectful of authority with due regard for their fellow beings. Hence, following the simulation exercise the affected students will be offered another opportunity to restage their event under conditionalities conducive to their accustomed and approved standards. (PR/SAT)