Barbadians are being warned to consider a number of issues before buying fish from any vendor in the island.
Acting Manager of the Bridgetown Public Market, Sherlock King said this morning during a press conference at the Fisheries Division on Princess Alice Highway, that one practical way of remembering how to avoid purchasing fish which would make them sick, was to be aware of the P’s factor.
King suggested that consumers should first examine the premises before “rushing ahead” to buy the commodity.
“One of these P’s is the premises . . . where I am going to purchase this fish. The premises itself, whether it’s a fish market, whether it’s a landing site, wherever; the members of the public ought to that the premises itself must be of a sanitary condition, the plant equipment and utensils that persons use is of vital importance,” King pointed out.
He said the premises must also be constructed in a hygienic way.
“Government does not build markets that does not meet the hygienic requirements. When government decides to construct a facility, government constructs a facility with all the food hygiene requirements . . . when we upgrade the facility, we do it in a way that would encourage the sanitary operation of the whole facility,” he noted.
“When we build these facilities, persons are to use these facilities; and when you use these facilities, we expect a level of appreciation and a level of respect for the plant itself,” insisted the government official.
Another P-factor involved people.
“You, the members of the public, members of the Ministry of Agriculture and those vendors, those involved in handling of food
as employees and customers, are an important source.
“Whenever you walk to a market, or wherever you walk, I advice persons, observe what the people are doing. What are the vendors doing, how are they dressed. Are they practising good habits; what is the level of hygiene they are practising? So once you walk in the facility itself, do not necessarily fall for the first person that charge at you in the market,” King cautioned.
He put consumers on notice that those involved in the fishing industry are required to carry a fisher identification tag.
“This fisher ID tells you a number of things. They [vendors] have gone through some level of rigour; they have the background checks with respect to the medical certification. Persons who are handling food must be free of disease. Do not fall for the first person that charges at you. They must show you a valid fisher ID, because that gives an indication of their health status; every year before you can renew that licence, you must have a medical examination,” asserted the senior public officer.
He advised Barbadians, as well, to observe how members of the public are mingling with those selling fish.
“Again, if you see members of the public in, and around sensitive areas where they ought not to be . . . you do not want members of the public to be handling fish before the person that is selling the fish, or that they are in processing areas.”
King is urging consumers to consider as well, the processing of the fish.
“How are these people [vendors] handling the product. We have fish, like other food animals. They are aspects of it that are considered to be ‘dirty’, and I put the term dirty in inverted commas; and there are aspects that are called clean,” he stated.
“The ‘dirty’ elements of the market are of any process is this. As long as you are going to gut the fish, you are going to take out the entrails, you remove the viscera. The viscera of any organism is heavily loaded with bacteria. It is heavily loaded with microorganisms; and you do not want a situation where persons are cleaning and gutting fish in the same space that you are conducting a clean operation,”
He explained that the boning and processing areas of the market are considered dirty areas, while the sales area at the front end is deemed the clean section.
The acting manager also cautioned customers to check the product first – its look, texture and odour.