Guidelines for the handling and storage of food should be adhered to at all times during this year’s events for Crop Over.
This is the advice from the Chief Environmental Health Officer, (Ag) Desmond King, who is warning stall owners and food handlers that they must cooperate fully with the Environmental Health Officer and comply with the Health Services Food Hygiene Regulations (1969 CAP. 44).
The penalties for violating the Regulations include a fine of $5,000 and, or imprisonment for 12 months.
There are several food handling and storage guidelines, which have been developed by the Environmental Health Division.
Individuals are reminded that they should store all foodstuff and water at least 18 inches from the ground; food and potable water must be stored in clean, covered containers and water storage containers should be fitted with taps.
Raw and prepared foods should be stored properly, for instance in covered containers, and they should be stored separately. Raw meat and meat products must be stored in small parcels.
According to the Division, all potentially hazardous foods (meat, chicken, fish, sausages, etc.) must be stored between layers of ice so as to keep the food at or below 40ºF.
There should be a constant supply of ice, and ice used for the storage of meat, fish or drinks, must not be used in the drinks when serving.
In addition, food handlers and assistants should never store or drag ice on the ground. When serving ice, scoops should be used, and the handle must never come in contact with the ice.
Only wholesome canned foods should be used. Contents from the can should be [removed from the can] immediately after opening or piercing, particularly in the case of high acid foods, such as fruit juices and sauces. Egg should not be used in batters and fish cake batters should not be stored in large containers (e.g. five gallon pails) but rather in containers small enough to be kept at a temperature less than 40ºF.
Food handlers should not prepare large amounts of food unless there is provision to keep the food at or above 140º F or below 40ºF. They should use tongs when serving food (hands should not be used to serve food). All equipment and implements should be kept clean and sanitised.
Clean glasses or cups must be picked up by their bases but stall owners should consider the use of disposable cups and plates. Operators are further reminded that they should not touch the food contact surfaces of plates, forks etc with their hands and they should clean and sanitize knives and other utensils when switching from one product to another (for instance raw chicken to bread) to prevent cross contamination. (JG)