Keeping Barbadians healthy and free from food-borne illnesses during the Crop-Over season is a major objective of the Ministry of Health, and to this end the Branford Taitt Polyclinic has launched a Health Expo to sensitise vendors on safe food practices.
The expo, titled Public Health Safety in the Sweet Summer Festival, is being held this week for over 300 persons who have applied to provide food on Spring Garden Highway, as well as some 200 who have submitted applications to ply their trade in the Black Rock area during the Crop Over festival.
It will comprise a number of workshops on various topics including Food Hygiene, which will cover stall construction; personal hygiene and methods to keep food at the correct temperatures; and vector control. Sessions will be conducted at the Polyclinic’s Black Rock location by environmental health officers.
Speaking yesterday afternoon at the launch of the expo, Minister of Health Donville Inniss underscored the importance of keeping the Crop-Over Festival free from food-borne illnesses caused by the improper handling of foodstuff. He expressed pleasure that over the past few years there had been no outbreaks of food-borne illness in Barbados during the festival, and congratulated the Environmental Health Department for its work in training vendors.
“We have done very well over the years as [the environmental health officers] have trained over 8,000 food handlers over the last couple of years and that is indeed a mammoth task that has been well achieved and certainly is by measure responsible for the fact that we have not had any major outbreak of food-borne illnesses… It really shows that the officers in the Ministry of Health are very proactive,” he surmised.
The minister however reminded vendors present at the launch to ensure that they provided a service that was not injurious to themselves or others during the festivities and encouraged them to carry the knowledge gained at the expo beyond the Crop-Over season.
Inniss also used the opportunity to urge persons who drink alcoholic beverages to do so responsibly and not to the detriment of themselves or others. Similarly, he encouraged Barbadians to practise safe sexual activity not only during the festival, but at all times.