Food Safety

AS the season of good cheer and goodwill consumes us all, it is very important that as consumers our guards are not lowered as a result of excessive consumption of food and beverages.

At this time of the year, unsuspecting consumers are inundated with shoddy goods and shabby services at lower and enticing prices. As such, it is incumbent on consumers to exercise greater vigilance when shopping.

In light of experiences with animal related sicknesses such as mad cow disease, swine and bird flu, an area of serious concern to the Division of Consumer Affairs is the purchasing of local and imported meats and poultry.

The Division of Consumer Affairs would like to reiterate the following safety tips publicized by the Public Health Department of the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and urges consumers to take heed.

As it pertains to the purchasing of local meat from butchers, consumers must always “…look for the INSPECTED & PASSED stamp which indicates that the meat has been inspected for wholesomeness by officers of the Department of Environmental Health and passed for food. Avoid purchasing any meat that has not been inspected and passed.”

Consumers are urged to exercise absolute care if there is a sale on food items. Examine all foods carefully prior to purchase, check for any damages of food items and expiry dates.

Consumers are further warned: “Never purchase can foods which are not labeled, dented, rusted or blown and large quantities of foods with short shelf life or close to being expired.”

Food storage is equally important and so consumers are forewarned to “avoid keeping food in the temperature danger zone between 4oC and 60oC where food poisoning bacteria grow best. Avoid storing foods such as meat, fish and chicken or foods requiring refrigeration at the back of the car/ vehicle for prolonged periods of time or for over four hours.”

Planning to eat out for the season or any other time? Then check whether the food handling establishment has a Public Health Licence that is conspicuously displayed which indicates that it is an approved establishment and has met Public Health Requirements.

Once again, the Division of Consumer Affairs is duty-bound and insists that consumers take note of the above pointers, so as to safeguard their health and life, particularly during all the merriment of the season.

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