Countrywide crackdown on unsafe street food vending

Last Updated on Friday, 12 February 2021, 17:11 by Denis Chabrol

The Government Analyst Food and Drug Department (GA-FDD) on Friday said Food Safety Officers would begin cracking down on unsafe food vending on the streets of Georgetown and elsewhere across the country.

The GA-FDD said it was teaming up with the City Public Health Department  and Environmental Health Officers from the 10 Regions and municipalities to counter  the “significant increase” in unauthorised street vending stalls.

The Department said the the National Food Safety and Control Committee (NFSCC) recently discussed the issue in January and February of 2021 among Food Safety Officers.

“A decision was taken to highlight this issue publicly and to commence sensitization and enforcement action nationwide to ensure operators -particularly food street vendors- are in compliance with the basic requirements to protect consumers and keep food safe,” the GA-FDD said. The Health Ministry Department said the NFSCC agreed that “action would be taken against street food vendors who fail to comply with the basic food hygiene requirements when plying their trade.”

The Analyst Food and Drug Department urged vendors to ensure that there are adequate facilities to keep food above 64  degrees Celsius if kept for longer than two hours on warmers or  to  keep food cold/chill under 8oc in chillers; access to potable running water; adequate garbage disposal facilities, and Possession of a valid Food Handlers ID Card.

The NFSCC said it believes that if the four very basic requirements are satisfied, street vended food would be protected from the associated risks,  customers would be less likely to be affected with food borne illnesses, and vendors would be able to continue their trade.

In 2009 the Pan- American Health Organization (PAHO) conducted a burden of Illness study where it was determined that diarrheal illness is very common in Guyana with 7.7 % of our population being affected annually. At the time, this figure was significantly higher than other countries in the Caribbean. Reasons for the high prevalence of diarrhea cited by the study include a large number of makeshift food outlets, the unavailability of potable water, inadequate waste disposal and unlicensed food vendors.