Cathy Ann Yarde, a food vendor who will operate at the National Stadium, making a point at the training session??held recently at the Warrens Polyclinic. (Pictures taken by Joy-Ann Gill, BGIS)????

A reduction in food-borne diseases in the catchment area of the Warrens Polyclinic has been attributed to work done by environmental health officers (EHOs) in training food handlers and vendors and the interest shown by these groups.

This was made clear by Principal Environmental Health Officer at the Warrens Polyclinic, John Watts, at a recent training seminar there, for food handlers involved in the Crop Over Festival.

Mr. Watts said: "It is because of seminars like this, as well as the attentiveness and cooperativeness of food vendors that we are generally not seeing huge outbreaks of food-borne diseases associated with street vending.

Principal Environmental Health Officer at the Warrens Polyclinic, John Watts making a point during the training session, held recently at that polyclinic, for food handlers and vendors who will operate at and around the National Stadium during Crop Over.

??"Additionally, we have seen improvements in their deportment, the construction of stalls, their techniques and general management of the stalls, for example with the disposal of refuse, and the type of equipment food-handlers are using."

While pointing out that the implements introduced were also commendable, he added: "For example, the use of food covers, chafing dishes, drink dispensers, coolers, ladles and tongs and especially food boxes, which keep food for up to about 12 hours, at between 125 to 180 degrees. These all contribute to making food preparation and serving safer."

Over 20 vendors, who are expected to offer food for sale at Warrens, Green Hill, Codrington Road, Spooners Hill, Bank Hall Cross Road, Bush Hall and Eagle Hall attended the training.

They were given instructions on ensuring the safety of food and clients at Crop Over events, as EHOs reiterated the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and encouraged compliance. Food handlers were reminded that when preparing or serving food and drink it was important to keep their heads covered at all times with hair nets or hair restraints, to refrain from using nail polish and to trim and keep nails clean.

A cross-section of??partipants at the training session, held recently at Warrens Polyclinic, for food handlers and vendors who will operate at and around the National Stadium during Crop Over.

And, they were also told to desist from wearing jewellery on the hands or around the neck and that they should avoid sleeveless tops or vests; rather, light and plain coloured shirts or tops were preferred. The EHOs reminded individuals that they should be free of infected burns, boils, cuts or respiratory illnesses and also stressed that smoking was prohibited in food stalls.

"You should also [practise proper hygiene;] wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, particularly before beginning work, after handling raw foods and after using the toilet. This is in order to prevent the contamination of food," stressed Mr. Watts.

He also told food handlers that the chewing of gum, talking excessively or eating while preparing or serving food and touching the body were prohibited.

The vendors were further warned about cross contamination of various meats and fish and encouraged to prepare, cook and store these separately. The importance of separating ice for drinking from that to be used for keeping drinks cold was also reinforced. jgill@barbados.gov.bb

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