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Fiji Time: 4:21 PM on Tuesday 23 September

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Food safety worry

Avinesh Gopal
Monday, April 16, 2012

HEALTH officials are doing their best not to create another disaster within a disaster.

In particular, they don't want any case of food poisoning to arise from the sale of flood-damaged food items.

They are doing everything within their means to ensure that the food people consume is safe but everyone has to play their part, including shop owners.

Considering the importance food plays in a person's daily life, we highlight again on food safety after the floods.

IT is that time again when the safety of the food that people consume is of concern.

This is especially so after recent flooding and power outages experienced in parts of the country, particularly in the Western Division.

While all efforts are being made by the health authorities to ensure there are no cases of food poisoning, the onus also rests on people to play their part.

But apart from the consumers, health authorities say it is the food suppliers who have to ensure that whatever they sell to people is safe for consumption.

As such, the Ministry of Health's Food Unit says everyone concerned should know their responsibility and ensure that the food people consume is safe.

Following the floods in January and February, shop owners were told by health officials about the preventive measures to take.

This included ensuring that food stock is kept out of reach of the rising floodwaters should there be another flooding.

Food Unit head Samuela Bolalailai said health inspectors were also informed via a circular prior to the recent floods on what to do if there was another flooding.

Mr Bolalailai said time and temperature abuse was of major concern as far as frozen food was concerned because of the power outage.

He said health inspectors were told to visit food suppliers and tell them to have back-up power supply if there was an outage.

"The food suppliers, that is shops and supermarkets, should ensure that power supply is there even if there's a power outage," Mr Bolalailai said.

"As far as the Food Safety Act is concerned, we will enforce the law and create awareness," he said.

Mr Bolalailai said the health ministry printed 5000 pamphlets in conjunction with the World Health Organisation (WHO) after the floods two weeks ago.

He said the pamphlets advised people in the flood-affected areas on how to avoid food poisoning after the recent floods.

"We have been able to prevent cases of food poisoning after the recent floods by condemning whatever food that was submerged by floodwaters," Mr Bolalailai said.

"Our officers have been concentrating on foods that are refrigerated to ensure that no defrost food items are sold to consumers by some unscrupulous businesses," he said.

Mr Bolalailai said condemned food had been buried under tight security and with secrecy to ensure scavengers do not reach them.

"By coming down hard on such things, we are trying not to create another disaster within a disaster," he said.


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