An activity geared at raising awareness among the Dominican public about food safety, has been launched.
Food Safety Consumer Awareness Month, an initiative of the Environmental Health Department, was introduced to the public on Wednesday.
Acting Chief Environmental Health Officer, Sylvester St. Ville, said at the launch that the Independence celebrations bring about an increase in food consumption and this has heightened the need to keep an eye on food safety in the country.
“There are large numbers of individuals gathering for the World Creole Music Festival and the Independence celebrations. Also, at this time marks the beginning of the cruise ship season, so it’s important as it relates to food safety,” he explained.
St. Ville said many of the foods consumed are unique to Dominica and many attend the celebration to taste the food which they may not have eaten for years.
“Our concerns stem from the possibility that practices during preparation, exposure and sale of these foods can lead to food borne illness,” he said.
He further noted that food borne illnesses can create a serious burden on the nation’s health services and can impact negatively on the country’s economy.
“Loss of man hours which results from illness and temporary replacement cost to businesses and health care cost have been estimated to have been in the millions of dollars for any food borne illness in Dominica” he said.
He said the department has planned series activities to promote safe buying of foods by consumers.
St. Ville said food vendors should also play their role in ensuring that their foods meet standard.
“Although food vendors are responsible for preparing and presenting the foods they sell in a manner to prevent diseases, consumers can play a role in determining how the foods are presented by identifying bad practices,” he explained.
The activities planned include a program with vendors and organisers of all activities nationwide to ensure guidelines and standards are considered when offering food to the public.
Environment Health Officers are also expected to be present at all activities to conduct public health monitoring.
The Environmental Health Department is implementing the project with assistance from the Pan American Health Organization.