Health authorities Wednesday issued a warning to citizens to be on the look out for contaminated turkey wings after several cases from a contaminated shipment that were recently dumped at the Mangrove Landfill in St Thomas were apparently stolen from the landfill.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Anton Best confirmed to Barbados TODAY Wednesday afternoon that the 650 cases of condemned wings — deemed to be unfit for human consumption — were disposed of two weeks ago.
However, Dr Best said it has since been discovered that some of the contaminated cases were illegally removed from the dumpsite, raising fears that they may have been offered on the market for sale.
“A decision was made by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with other partners to dump them . . . [but] apparently as soon as our guys left, some people went in and took up some of the turkey wings. So obviously the turkey wings were deemed unfit for human consumption and there is a risk of them even being more unfit for human consumption by the fact that they have started to thaw out, and that they could have been exposed to contaminants in the soil at the landfill,” the concerned health official said.
Barbados TODAY was first alerted to the situation Wednesday by a concerned citizen, who did not want to be identified, but expressed alarm over the development.
When contacted earlier Wednesday afternoon, Dr Best confirmed the matter was under active investigation and that an unspecified number of the dumped turkey wings had been unlawfully removed from a hole that had been dug for disposal of the contaminated meat products, even though the hole was covered up after disposal.
While admitting that the authorities were still in the dark about who was responsible for the illegal act and about exactly how many of the contaminated turkey wings were stolen, Best Wednesday warned that action could put the lives of consumers at risk.
“Obviously we would be very concerned about people consuming them because they were dumped for a reason in the first place,” he said, adding that the perpetrator or perpetrators may very well have taken them for personal use.
“We would advise against that . . . it may very well have been somebody taking them to sell, we would advise against that too,” the senior medical official said.
It was not immediately clear from whence the condemned turkey shipment originated.
However, commenting on the development, Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) James Paul said he was happy that local health authorities were carefully scrutinizing imported poultry and other food products in order to safeguard the health of Barbadians.
“It is always unfortunate to see food being dumped, but certainly I think that the health authorities are doing what they are supposed to do in terms of ensuring any foods consumed by Barbadians, whether produced locally or imported, have proper standards,” Paul said, adding that this was one of the things the industry had been consistently calling for — greater scrutiny of food items.
“The fact that this [dumping] has happened [indicates] that health authorities do have an eye out and we hope that they would continue to be vigilant in terms of ensuring foods that are of less than desirable quality are not consumed by Barbadians,” he added.
The BAS head also took the opportunity to reiterate his strong stance against the importation of poultry products. “We believe that the industry, if given the opportunity in Barbados, can supply 100 per cent of the poultry. The problem of course, is that we have a private sector, or parts of the private sector, which have an interest in importation . . . they do not want to work to develop the poultry industry in this country,” he said.