Food handlers serving meals at this year’s emancipation festivities are being told to expect heightened inspections throughout the course of the celebrations which have already gotten underway.
The Environmental Health Department gave that indication after achieving the record feat of using a single month, July, to train 676 food handlers in the latest food safety techniques.
Environmental Health Officer Henrietta Alexander told BVI News on Friday that the department was able to facilitate roughly 10 sessions for the month.
“I think it has been the most persons we have trained in one month,” she said. “It was rather hectic but we anticipated it because this is when everybody comes in to do food handlers sessions for the festival. We know that persons are going to be putting out a lot of food at a fast pace to many different persons. So we stress personal hygiene, temperature control and proper thawing.”
The training sessions were conducted on Tortola and on Virgin Gorda.
“We just want persons to practice what they have learnt because we have seen that there has been a breakdown with the food handlers sessions and persons applying what they have learnt,” she said.
Proprietors and managers also trained
Meanwhile, as part of the training, managers and proprietors were also trained to bridge the gap between what is being learnt and what is being practised.
“We started to also focus on the managers in the different establishments; not necessarily for the festival but generally because the managers have a role to play. For instance, we may teach you that your food is to be held at 140 degrees Fahrenheit but if the manager or the proprietor did not provide you with any hot holding units, how are you going to do it? So the managers and owners also have a responsibility in ensuring that the environment that they create and is conducive for food handling,” Alexander explained.
‘Serve safe’ certification
The department also trained 19 individuals in what is known as a ‘serve safe’ certification course.
“It was an intensive food safety course that teaches you from the safe food handling all the way to having different food safety systems within your establishment. At the end of the course, once persons are successful, their certificates are valid for five years, and they can also take the test to become an instructor proctor,” she said.
Alexander said the department aims to train persons who are outside of the Environmental Health to become instructors. These persons will, in turn, minimize the burden on the department.
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