Monday, August 8, 2022
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HomeOPINIONENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH AND PUBLIC EVENTS 2: FOOD SAFETY

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH AND PUBLIC EVENTS 2: FOOD SAFETY

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By: Theophilus Franklyn, Environmental Health Officer

As we mentioned in our first article on “Environmental Health and Public Events: Vincentian Perspectives”, we stated food safety briefly.

Thus, in this article the causes of food poisoning and safety guidelines for public events or mass gathering would be looked at.

It is known that, mass gatherings are events in which the number of attendees can overwhelm the health system, events such as concerts, shows, and carnivals; where one specific event or show can last from a few hours to a couple of days. Food preparation and servicing plays an important part for patrons to indulge or re-energize for the duration of the activities.

Food, by definition, is anything that is consumed and can be in the form of either liquid or solid, and can also be packaged or unpackaged.

Causes

Food, by nature, if not cooked or properly stored can cause food poisoning or allergies.

Some food-borne diseases are salmonella or E.coli.

Salmonella is caused by the serving food that has not been properly stored or meat that is raw. Studies have shown that salmonella is the leading cause of food poisoning at public events.

The other disease, as mentioned, is E.coli (escherichia coli) which is found in salads that are not properly stored or sanitized. These form bacteria that can cause headaches, diarrhea and nausea within 24 hours of consumption and can even result in the death of immuno-compromised individuals, such as the elderly, babies, and pregnant women.

Prevention

To prevent food-borne diseases at events or mass gatherings, the following are some simple guidelines to follow:

  1. All food vendors must be Medically Certified by the Environmental Health Department or their relevant District Environmental Health Officer, under the Public Health Act and Environmental Health Services Act of 1977. Environmental Health Officers/ Sanitary Officers have the power to inspect and check foods at all events, whether private or public.
  • Foods must be prepared in utensils that are properly cleaned, such as pots, pans, serving trays, etc.
  • The location must be free from pests, such as rats and cockroach, as these transmit diseases that render food poisoning.
  • All food vendors must practice proper hygiene by always maintaining clean skin and low body odor; their dress code should not include jewelry, sleeveless tops and nail polish.
  • Food must be stored at its correct temperature. For example, food such as peleau should be stored above 60°C while salads below 5°C.

In conclusion, food safety is everyone’s business, not only the promoter but food vendors as well, and this helps to prevent food-borne diseases by storing food properly.

Remember, your health is a shared responsibility.

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