Environmental health officers from the Ministry of Health are meeting tomorrow with all island associations, clubs and societies at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies to discuss food safety.
The meeting, which is an effort to educate students about safe food preparation, handling and distribution, follows an incident on Tuesday when food prepared by the Antigua and Barbuda Student Association (ABSA) for a cultural food day, was ordered to be thrown away.
The order was given by a health inspector after it was found that the food was not being kept at the required temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
The session tomorrow, which was scheduled before Tuesday’s incident, will involve simulating conditions under which food is usually sold on campus by student groups to facilitate their understanding of what is required, said a news release issued by the management of UWI Cave Hill.
The discarded Antiguan dish – seasoned – rice, was being kept at 91 degrees Fahrenheit, 49 degrees below temperature regulations.
Noting that the Cave Hill Campus has struck up a relationship over the years with the Ministry of Health in establishing guidelines for food handling, the release said health and safety guidelines provided to students were as a result of this ongoing relationship to ensure that there were no public health threats resulting from the sale of food on campus.
The release said when students are assessed by the Student Health Clinic for food handlers’ certificates, they are advised to make sure they know the health regulations that govern their events. The requirements are also discussed at student activity planning meetings with the various clubs and societies on campus.
Giving the background to Tuesday’s incident, the release said the health official attached to the Brandford Taitt Polyclinic on Black Rock, St Michael, visited the campus to oversee the set-up and display for the students’ food distribution and sale at the cultural event. His conclusion was that the organisers had not complied with prescribed protocols to facilitate the safe handling of food.
In an incident at Cave Hill approximately two years ago, 60 students became ill as a result of food distributed for a breakfast event.
Campus management said following the simulation exercise, the ABSA would be offered another opportunity to restage the food event under conditionalities conducive to accustomed and approved standards.
The incident made headline news in the Antigua Observer with the student group expressing concern that they were discriminated against.
After meeting with the health inspector, the Office of Student Services, and members of the Guild/Student Government, the group suggested that the $800 spent on the preparation of the Antiguan food should be reimbursed.