THE Ministry of Health is calling on food vendors at the 2013 Vodafone Fiji Hibiscus Festival to follow health and safety regulations.
Ministry of Health spokesman Shalvin Deo made the comments yesterday in response to questions from this newspaper, saying health inspectors were out in full force in the past few days to ensure all food were prepared hygienically.
"Our health inspectors are there inspecting the food prepared to see that proper hygiene standards are followed," Mr Deo said.
He said the stall owners knew the standards they were to adhere to.
"We are monitoring the food being served for the safety of the people and we also advise the stall owners to adhere to proper hygiene standards to ensure that food-borne diseases are not spread."
The Ministry of Health had earlier said monitoring of food stalls was done to promote the festival theme, Pacific Wellness, among all Fijians. Hibiscus organisers confirmed yesterday that there were 70 food stalls at the festival village and each one cost $2700 to rent for the week.
Health Minister Doctor Neil Sharma also said his ministry would provide free health checks at the festival, adding that this is a great opportunity for everyone.
"Many people are dying young from non-communicable diseases and through this awareness drives and free medical check-ups, we are able to involve everyone from the homes, villages and communities," Mr Sharma said.
"Wellness through healthy lifestyles is the key to preventing many non-communicable diseases that plague the Fijian community so we need to change our lifestyle, eat healthy foods and go for regular check-ups."
Dr Sharma highlighted early intervention and changing bad habits could save money, time and, most importantly, lives.