(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – Consumer awareness for food safety is a growing concern as government makes deliberate attempts to tighten food handling regulations.
The Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association have developed new sanitation standards which will benefit and protect both consumers and food service providers in the food service industry.
On Monday, June 25th a training workshop was held for food handlers at the environmental Health Department in Bois D’ orange.
Parker Ragnanan, Assistant Chief Environmental Health Officer, gave the details.
“For the first time, Department of Health has conducted a training program for food handlers as part of the food handlers registration process. In the past what obtained is that food handlers would have gotten a medical certificate indicating that they are medically fit to work in a food establishment. What we recognized is we needed to go a step further in that we needed to ensure that persons who are involved in food handling have the requisite knowledge as to why they are asked to do certain things. So issues like personal hygiene, time temperature controls, and storage of foods these are all very important in the food industry. So this morning we have conducted a training program with food handlers in giving them information and as to why they need to observe certain practices in food hygiene to ensure that the foods that are produced for consumers are safe.”
Ragnanan added that his department is the custodian for food safety regulations and so it is very important that they ensure that foods are produced under hygienic conditions, to ensure that consumers are not predisposed to any risk of food borne diseases. He said whilst Ferrands Dairy employees were the first beneficiaries of this workshop, this training is only one of many.
“Anybody who wants to apply for a health certificate would have to go through that training process. Further, persons who already hold health certificates are in the process of renewing their health certificates as you know health certificates are valid for 6 months it expires at the end of June of every year and December 31st of every year and it has to be renewed twice a year. So if persons are going to be renewing the health certificate they must go through that training exercise as well it is going to be rolled out throughout the island. We are going to have programs in Vieux Fort and Soufriere at our offices and therefore every food handler who are registering or re-registering would have to go through this exercise.”
The Assistant Chief Environmental Health Officer said whilst this might be a herculean task due to the number of registered food handlers, he believes it is important to conduct this excise in order to ensure food production standards.
Meanwhile, Chef Orlando Satchell, a Director at the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA) said, this new initiative can go beyond the call of duty.
“Saint Lucia we need to understand that we are dealing with food, this is people’s health here and I hope this initiative will also recognize and support you even at home. I will always comment about your Sunday rice and peas, you have the best rice and peas but when you store it in the fridge hot, everything else gets hot, so now you know you have to cool your food down correctly and make sure you get the process correctly.”