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Some of the panelists at the discussion: (l to r) Senior Veterinary Officer of the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Mark Trotman; Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John; and Chief Environmental Health Officer in the Ministry Health, Tyrone Applewhaite. (A. Miller/BGIS)

Local farmers will benefit from the Raw Milk Sanitation Programme which is being undertaken by the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture. ??

This assurance came from Chief Environmental Health Officer in the Ministry of Health, Tyrone Applewhaite, who was speaking at a panel discussion on the Programme, at the Barbados Workers Union Headquarters, Harmony Hall St. Michael, yesterday.

Mr. Applewhaite explained that the programme is designed to ensure that the necessary standards for the production of milk are met and that the milk which is being sold is safe.

"This is not a move to push the farmer back, but it is just a mechanism to ensure that we are going to work with the famers," he affirmed.

Adding that local farmers would have an opportunity to sell milk outside of the island once proper regulation was put in place, the Chief Environmental Health Officer reasoned: "I believe that we should not only be producing milk for local consumption but the milk should be able to go on a cruise ship or on an aircraft to the European Union, [or] to the United States; so we believe in standards. And, I believe that we can work together to come up with standards, similarly to what we do with food standards."

Mr. Applewhaite noted that the farmers were invited to the panel discussion to provide feedback on the program that would assist with preparation for the final document, which they "would look to operationalise…as soon as possible".??

He added that training would also be implemented for all parties involved in the program to "prevent contamination of the milk from the cow, from themselves, from the environment, from the utensils and so on".

"We will go into the outlets and train those persons who are working in the area of food safety, displaying and controlling temperatures on the chill counters and so on… Then there will be a general public education programme," the Health official stated.??

In addition, Senior Veterinary Officer of the Ministry of Agriculture, Mark Trotman, emphasised the importance of testing milk, stating that if milk was not kept under certain conditions it could create bacteria.

"It is important to make sure that every step from the beginning, from the cow itself to when the milk is actually sold on the market … there are certain checks in place to make sure that the milk does not become contaminated. Whether contaminated by the animal or contaminated by the person who is handling it," he explained.

aisha.reid@barbados.gov.bb

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