…action to be taken against those flouting hygiene rules
The Government Analyst-Food and Drug Department (GA-FDD) has given notice to the increase of unauthorised street food vendors within the regions and municipalities, in which action will be taken to ensure compliance with operating requirements.
In a statement on Friday, the body said the issue of makeshift food outlets was deliberated on at the level of the National Food Safety and Control Committee, since there has been an increase in such practices.
A decision was taken to commence public sensitisation and enforce action nationwide so that operators are in compliance with the basic requirements to keep their food items safe for consumption.
These conditions include adequate facilities to keep food about 64 degrees Celsius and chilled items under eight degrees Celsius; access to potable running water, adequate garbage disposal facilities and possession of a valid food handlers identification card.
“The NFSCC believes that if four of the very basic requirements are satisfied, street vended food would be protected from the associated risks, customers would be less likely to be affected with foodborne illnesses and vendors would be able to continue their trade,” the statement positioned.
In 2009, the Pan American Health Organisation conducted a burden of illness study, where it was determined that diarrheal illnesses are very common in Guyana, with 7.7 per cent of the population being affected annually. At that time, the figures were much higher in other Caribbean countries and it was linked to makeshift food outlets, unavailability of potable water, inadequate waste disposal and unlicensed food vendors.
The Committee has agreed that action would be taken against street vendors who fail to comply with basic good hygiene requirements when plying their trade.
PAHO has concluded that “Foodborne illnesses are caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances entering the body through contaminated food or water. Foodborne diseases impede socioeconomic development by straining health care systems and harming national economies, tourism and trade.”
In September 2020, the GA-FDD acquired international accreditation of its Inspectorate Division. The International Standard Organisation (ISO) 17020 achievement was conferred by the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA). The accreditation scope included inspection, sampling and product destruction for food, drugs, cosmetics, and medical devices.
The Department at that time stated that the importation of substandard food, drugs, cosmetics and medical devices would be an occurrence of the past. It posited that document submissions and all requirements must now be met, and there would be no compromising of its system, which would have a negative impact on its accreditation.