Jamaica Gleaner / Western Bureau:
While the majority of Montego Bay’s 36 registered food establishments have been reopened since the November rains, which caused flooding in the western city, the St James Health Department says that it remains dedicated to ensuring the safety of food sold to consumers.
Lennox Wallace, the chief public health inspector for St James, told The Gleaner yesterday that eight establishments remained closed and that his food safety officers were monitoring those that had been reopened.
“We continue to monitor the warehouses to ensure that regarding those establishments that have been reopened, they do not try to mask food in their warehouses that they would want to clean up to put back in the food chain. Our food safety officers are monitoring the situation, and they are doing an excellent job,” said Wallace.
Holding foods for resale
“Those eight establishments that are still closed, we gave them certain recommendations, and if those recommendations are not completed, they cannot be reopened. We continue to work with them because we want to be a partner, along with being a regulator,” he added.
Wallace gave the example of one establishment that apparently tried to beat the system by cleaning flood-exposed food in one of its warehouses in Montego Bay’s Freeport area.
“On Thursday, we (carried out) investigations at a property that was holding these food items in a warehouse at Freeport. They were washing them to place them back in the food chain, and we have seized them and taken them to the Retirement dump for disposal,” he said.
Following November’s flood rains, several businesses in Montego Bay had to temporarily close their doors and carry out clean-up exercises, to include the disposal of contaminated food items.
The health department made it mandatory for affected businesses to receive public health recertification before they could reopen for business.