Tuesday 14 July, 2020

DEH stresses food safety on World Environmental Health Day

The Department of Environmental Health (DEH) on Wednesday reminded members of the public to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones from food borne illness.

This is in keeping with the “Global Food Safety & Sustainability” theme for World Environmental Health Day 2018 which will be observed on Wednesday.

 “The globalisation of local food supply coupled with the ever-increasing number of commercial food establishments, augments the need to ensure food safety,” said DEH Acting Director, Richard Simms.

He went on to say that in order to prevent food borne illness, food must be handled, prepared, stored and offered for sale in a safe and hygienic manner.

Simms used the occasion to share the following tips:

“As a small island nation that imports much of its food and relies on tourism as a pillar of its economy, we are fortunate that the DEH has a small but active team of food hygiene & safety officers that for decades has been able to build close links within the food and beverage industry," said Dwayne Seymour, Minister for Health, Environment, Culture and Housin

The DEH notes that, through its food safety and hygiene section, it continues to undertake several activities to ensure that foods are safe for consumption.

Food safety refers to a series of activities including the handling, preparation and storage of foods in such a manner which allows the prevention of food borne illnesses.

Food borne illnesses most commonly occur as a result of contamination by the presence of microbial pathogens and toxins such as disease causing bacteria including E. coli, listeria, salmonella and staphylococcus.

Symptoms of food borne illness include abdominal pains, stomach cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting and fever.

  1. Use clean water and wholesome foods. Never purchase foods that are past their expiration dates.
  2. Keep food preparation surfaces clean. Wash hands thoroughly with anti-bacterial soap before handling food and after activities such as handling raw meat, using the toilet, changing diapers and handling pets or garbage.          
  3. Avoid cross contamination by separating raw foods from cooked foods.
  4. Cook foods thoroughly, to temperatures of at least 70° Celsius (C) or 158° Fahrenheit (F). This is especially critical for meat, poultry and seafood.
  5. Store foods at safe temperatures. Refrigerate foods within 90 minutes of preparation. Ensure that fridge is set at between 32-41°F and freezer is 0° F or less.

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