Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth George has confirmed that while investigations have revealed that there is a rodent problem at Purity Bakeries, the Ministry of Health and Wellness is satisfied that management has moved swiftly to take remedial and preventative actions.
Dr George commented on two videos being circulated on social media showing a rat inside the Lower Collymore Rock, St Michael facility.
On an official visit to the St Philip District Hospital today, he told journalists that recent investigations showed that situations on the interior of the facility met the required safety standards.
“The reports to me this morning was that yes there were reports made in the press but we are satisfied at this point in time that Purity has taken remedial and preventative action,” he said.
However, Dr George said there was evidence to suggest that rodents had been around the exterior of the facility.
“We will be working with the environment ministry to make sure that that type of garbage is removed. Around Christmas time when people generate more garbage that is the issue.
“We have to work with our people in communities across Barbados and we also have to work with the Ministry of Environment because this is a season where there is just so much more generation of garbage,” Dr George said.
The CMO, who recalled that Purity was closed about two years ago due to challenges, said the ministry had made it clear that if there were reasons to shut a private or public entity because of a public health challenge it would be done.
Minister of Health and Wellness Lt Col Jeffrey Bostic who was also at the District Hospital said he too saw the social media posts and had been briefed by the CMO regarding the actions taken by the ministry.
A statement from Purity Bakeries issued over the weekend stated that management was aware of the video circulating on social media.
The statement thanked and commended staff for the quick decisive action taken when the unfortunate incident occurred and confirmed that protocols called for a full cleaning and sterilisation in the event of an extraordinary occurrence such as what has occurred where access was somehow gained to the facility.
“Purity Bakeries, like every other food business, has experienced challenges in relation to the rodent population around our facility. The national issues related to garbage collection have compounded these challenges.
“However, Purity continues to work extremely hard to ensure that risks are kept to the perimeter of the facility, but on occasion, if for example, an exterior door is left ajar, incidents may happen.
“We routinely have visits from the health inspectorate, at times of their choosing and without prior notification to us. We have had four such unannounced visits since mid-October 2019,” the statement explained.
Purity has also confirmed that the most recent visit on Saturday December 7 2019, was in response to the videos shared on social media.
“On each occasion, the health inspectorate has executed a rigorous and thorough inspection of the facility and have seen and confirmed the measures that we have put in place to mitigate and control these matters to ensure that there is no compromise on any product that we send to the market. We are consistently working to maintain our position and our quality assurance and sanitation teams are now even more vigilant,” the statement read. The business said its officials have been working with two pest control companies to ensure its record of health and safety is maintained. [email protected]