GA-FDD intensifies inspection activities, closed several food establishments

GA-FDD Director Marlan Cole

The Government Analyst Food and Drug Department (GA-FDD) after trumping up inspection activities on local food establishments following a survey conducted earlier this year has since closed several of the said businesses.

Speaking at a one-day seminar held for Agro-Processing Food Service Establishments on Thursday, Director of the Government Analyst Food and Drug Department, Marlon Cole said that the survey which showed an alarming number of food businesses breaching sanitation regulations has since been expanded to other parts of Guyana.

GA-FDD Director Marlan Cole

“As it relates to that survey and the alarming results that we, because of the laboratory support and intervention, we have decided to expand the activity but what have happened over time is that the health officers has been responsive to the results of our survey and have since trumped up their inspection activity and a lot of food services restaurants have been closed and work have been done and some have subsequently, after completing the sanitation work or pest control work or food-handling work, have since reopened” Cole disclosed.

Analytical Scientific Officers attached to the GA-FDD’s Food Laboratory conducted the survey in collaboration with Food Inspectors of the GA-FDD’s Public Health Officers from the city and municipalities, Environmental Health Officers (EHOs) of the region and Port Health Officers.

The purpose of the survey was to determine compliance of the food service industry with existing sanitary regulatory requirements.

In September 2018 to March 2019, 55 food services establishments were randomly selected for an assessment. The inspection checklist assessed six areas: food storage, cold storage, food preparation, sanitation, garbage disposal and employee hygiene.

In May, the alarming results were revealed to the public which showed unsatisfactory results.

Only 25 per cent of the facilities practised adequate food storage, only 13 per cent of establishments used gloves and only 4 per cent of establishments’ workers were observed applying the correct principles of cleaning and sanitising.

Only 20 per cent practised handwashing correctly and in 42 per cent of establishments’ workers used hairnets. Of the 102 hands of workers that were swabbed after washing, 47 per cent was unsatisfactory.

In regard to food contact surfaces (cutting boards and utensils), 30 per cent of the 125 surfaces swabbed after cleaning and/or sanitising was unsatisfactory.

Furthermore, 46 per cent of the 48 food service containers (food boxes) sampled were unsatisfactory. Surveys are presently being conducted in Linden, the Essequibo Coast and other parts of the capital city.