City not performing food safety functions

Dear Editor,

One can only see as twisted logic and unharnessed greed, the argument being advanced by the Town Clerk of Georgetown against sections of the Food Safety Bill which he considers a peril to the Council’s revenue base as he claims that the Council will be losing approximately six million a year from no longer being able to license “eating houses” and “street food vendors.”

In the first instance the annual wage bill for the staff of the Food Hygiene Section is more than ten times the amount of revenue brought in from licensing food establishments, so in effect the Council would be gaining rather than losing as all they have to do is to give all of the staff of the Food Hygiene Section pink slips and they will save the city tens of millions of dollars each year.

In the second instance I would like to know what the staff of the Food Hygiene Section is doing about the explosion in the dog food business in Georgetown. All over the world there are licensing and labeling requirements for the manufacturing and sale of dog food and other treats. This is for the protection of the home-based pet food preparers, for the safety of the purchaser, and for the safety of their pets. Clearly, the Council does not consider this as important as there is not even a labelling requirement for these products.

But the question I would also like to ask the Town Clerk who was once an Environmental Health Assistant at the Council, is whether there are routine food inspections conducted by Environmental Health Officers to all food establishments and eating houses in Georgetown that involve an assessment of the storage of food, the processing of food, the display of food, the packaging of food, the transportation and distribution of food, the health, hygiene and knowledge of food operators and most importantly the condition and hygiene of food premises? We see many illegal operations. We see persons selling raw chicken on the streets around the Bourda Market each evening without any refrigeration facilities. Surely the city needs to do better than just collect six million a year whilst overlooking many flagrant violations.

The unhygienic nature of some eating establishments in Georgetown is no secret where the bathrooms are barely ever clean, and indeed many times the kitchens too close to the urinals. Chances are in some of these establishments that the tea, local drinks and juices are made from untreated tap water which can lead to occurrences of diarrhoea, dysentery and food poisoning. 

There could be no question of the need for food establishments in Georgetown to be brought into conformity with what other cities internationally are doing. The Georgetown City Council cannot facilitate that and the Town Clerk has to know that. There is a critical need for central government to urgently step in to prevent the spread of food borne diseases through the control of the production, preparation, handling, storage and the transportation of food. How could anyone with a shred of decency rail against that?

Yours faithfully,

Kwasi Sanderson

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