Our Readers' Opinions
July 1, 2011

Focus on safe food and Water for Vincy Carnival


Editor: Carnival is primarily about mas and music and sweet local food. However, somewhere in this mix, safe food needs to be emphasised.

There is no doubt that Vincy Carnival is the festival that brings the busiest time for street food vendors.{{more}} Throngs of people are observed in lines waiting to purchase delectable dishes such as barbecued pork with breadfruit or blackfish and green banana. The majority of these foods are affordable, definitely tasty, and readily available. But are they safe?

In any event, when safe food practices are ignored by vendors, someone has to pay with their health, and possibly life. Public Health experts warn that persons at risk from food related illnesses will include the elderly, young, and those who have a compromised immune system – particularly the HIV patient.

As street food vendors practice their trade, it is not uncommon for a few to be stationed at sites which are considered unsightly, unsanitary, lack running water and inadequate for patrons’ comfort, particularly the absence of toilet facilities. Such adverse environmental health conditions most often contribute to contaminated prepared foods, to various degrees. Some are detected and others are not. With the absence of adequate sanitary facilities at some locations, one needs to question if personal hygienic practice guidelines are followed by food vendors; and can they deliver wholesome foods to the populace?

When consumers or revelers are out on the street enjoying the Carnival festivities and need a quick meal, here are some simple guidelines towards minimizing the risk of acquiring food related illnesses:

  • Eat only freshly prepared foods (right before your eyes),
  • Avoid foods that were previously cooked and left for hours awaiting to be sold,
  • Look for foods that are cooked with high temperature
  • Well done meats should be preferred to rare or medium done.
  • Buy from certified food vendors who are located in close proximately to potable water and toilet facility (ask to see food handlers certificate if necessary),
  • Only consume ice which is intended for drinking purpose. Ice used to reduce beverages temperature should not be used for human consumption,
  • In the absence of potable water directly from the tap, bottled water should be used.

As for you, the vendors, the populace depends on your usual affordable, tasty and high quality food. Furthermore, the populace trusts you with their health. You need to protect that trust. Practice Food Safety.

Over the past months, the Environmental Health Inspectors from the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment have been working with vendors to ensure that safe foods are available to all, every day, every time. For Carnival 2K11, let’s eat and enjoy safe food.

Neri James