The majority of the city’s water vendors, who were recently found to be unlicensed, had been previously licensed, Director of the Government Analyst-Food and Drug Department (GA-FDD) Marlon Cole has said.
In a recent statement, the GA-FDD declared that in an exercise conducted over a six-month period, during which 87 water samples were collected from 29 water processing facilities in the city, it was discovered that 11 entities were operating without the statutory licence issued by GA-FDD.
The samples were analysed and 15 were found to be unsatisfactory, and as a consequence, the GA-FDD said that the authorities were calling on all water processors to conform with the requirements as it relates to the sale and distribution of treated water in five-gallon bottles.
Speaking to this newspaper recently, Cole related that most of the facilities which are in default would’ve been licensed in previous years but have not renewed their licences this year.
“What happened is that some people who come into the department for their regular check-ups and pay their fees, do their applications even though they might have been issued a licence before. But they haven’t come in to apply and it’s negligent on their part not to ensure and insist, and as a result we will not have an idea what’s going on with the quality of water being provided. What the manufacturer should do is to have, placed on the facility, a document stating that they are licenced by the Food and Drug Department. Even if you have been licenced for 2017, you still need to do the inspection and so for 2018,” Cole explained.
Cole noted that while the GA-FDD usually carries out checks once a year, it is encouraging the companies not to wait for the annual GA-FDD inspection of their water and their operation, but to have it checked every month. In that way, they would be able to show that their water has been consistently safe.
“It’s something we should be promoting, for them to check their water. In some cases we also had problems with their operations – the keeping of records and cleaning of filters,” Cole said.
After initial inspections would’ve revealed infractions, Cole noted that they would’ve done a follow up assessment of the facilities where a majority of the issues would have been rectified.
“Those who were never issued a licence before, have to get a special training or they would be operating illegally and that cannot continue indefinitely and they would be asked to cease operations,” he said.
Cole said that they are lobbying the water processors to ensure that they apply for their relevant licences before March 31st of every year, and to have their water constantly treated to ensure that they are selling water of the requisite quality.
“So, even before the Department comes to you, you have an obligation to submit samples so we can see the results that the water is of the requisite quality and on a consistent basis. So maybe every quarter or every month these people [are] supposed to have records to show the quality of water and they shouldn’t wait on us to do a survey,” he added, while stating that some of the persons who did not renew their licences have already visited the department to do so.
Specifically, water processors and distributors must have a valid licence issued by the GA-FDD, which is an indicator of their compliance with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs). Additionally, bottles used must be properly cleaned, sanitised, labelled and sealed, and funnels should not be used to transfer water to bottles prior to sale and/or distribution.
Consumers are being advised that when purchasing treated water from various water processing facilities to ensure that they are properly labelled and sealed and to report any company which fails to comply with the department’s requirements, as it relates to the sale of treated water to the general public.
Consumers have also been advised to demand to see a valid licence issued by the GA-FDD when making purchases.
The GA-FDD has committed to repeating the survey in the coming months and publishing a list of approved facilities.