Food safety is crucial to good health, Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) Coordinator Dr Colin James told some 30 participants at the opening of a two-day training programme which commenced today (Wednesday) at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) Timehri.
The two-day training which was organised by the Veterinary Public Health (VPH) Department of the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) attracted participants from local food- manufacturing sector who vend at the CJIA. They were coursed as a part of a menu of measures to qualify for receiving their Food Handlers Identification Card and Certificate, a release from the MoPH stated.
Addressing participants, James said that the negative impact of unsafe food and food-borne diseases is high and growing around the world and is being blamed for some 80 per cent of deaths globally.
“The negative impact of unsafe food is enormous and it also creates a vicious cycle of disease and malnutrition, particularly affecting infants, young children, elderly and the sick,” James said.
While unsafe food and food-borne diseases constitute a significant public health problem, food diseases impede socio economic development by straining health care systems and harming national economies, tourism and trade, he said.
The EOC Coordinator confirmed that a large proportion of ready-to-eat foods is being sold by informal sector operators especially street vendors who offer it at low prices and provide essential services to workers, shoppers, travellers, school children and low-income earners. He added that the consumption of these foods is common in many countries especially in places where urbanisation is occurring at a rapid pace.
“The people who depend on such foods are often more interested in its convenience than in issues of safety, quality and hygiene,” James emphasised.
James told the participants that in responding to the health challenges related to food safety, the MoPH strives to support food vendors to ensure that the foods supplied are safe and nutritious.
“Your support will amongst other things help the MoPH and the Government by extension to achieve its goals of reducing the cases of food poisoning especially for travellers”, James said
Meanwhile, Andre Kellman, CJIA Deputy Chief Executive Officer (DCEO) applauded the Ministry’s effort and urged participants to take the lessons learnt and put it into practice.
He reminded those present that wholesomeness and soundness are key in maintaining international standards and guidelines as recommended by the WHO.
The Food Handler Training will continue tomorrow and is likely to attract another 30 participants, the MoPH said.