Food handlers urged to practise proper hygiene when dealing with food
The Environmental Health Department is cracking down on food handlers’ unhygienic practices this Crop Over season.
Chief Environmental Health Officer Tyrone Applewhaite today warned people selling food at events to set aside all jewellery. And he said environmental health officers would be out in their numbers to ensure this and other proper food handling practices were complied with.
He sounded the warning while speaking to the media this morning at his department’s Food Safety Symposium in Jubilee Gardens, The City, where he assured seasoned and new food handlers that his foot soldiers would be keeping their eyes out for people who break the “no wearing of jewellery” rule.
Applewhaite said that practice was posing a major problem for the department.
“For some reason, food handlers still continue to wear jewellery, and this year we are hoping that we can get that under control. When you have rings on your fingers, there is no way you can wash your hands or sanitize your hands properly because obviously bacteria and other things accumulate under those things.
“So we are asking people that, during the preparation of food, just remove all of the jewellery. The earrings can easily drop into the food, and that is a physical hazard, and then some person biting down on that earring in the food can be very dangerous,” he said
Applewhaite also appealed to handlers to “remove all of the nail polish and extended nails because there is no need for that in the preparation of food. We are asking vendors that if they have cuts and bruises they cannot prepare food”.
According to Applewhaite, between 2006 and the present, the Environmental Health Training Centre trained a total of 9,000 food handlers in a certified programme through the Barbados Community College and the Pan American Health Organization. He revealed that, currently, the department was in talks with the University of the West Indies to develop an advanced training programme.
“I think my department is happy that over the years we are seeing consistent improvement in the standards. We are seeing very good food handling practices, and we are not going to stop. We are seeing a spin-off from the training where people who are trained actually are our eyes out there. We find that food handlers who are trained, when things out there are not going well, they call us and tell us,” he said.
Applewhaite reminded handlers that they must wash their hands regularly and keep food in appropriate storage and at the correct temperatures, and urged new handlers that they should obtain a licence from the ministry, along with a valid medical certificate obtained at the appropriate polyclinics.
During the symposium, food service providers, food vendors and other stakeholders were given talks on food safety by environmental health officers and cooking demonstrations.