Stricter food and safety measures are on the horizon as the Ministry of Health gears up for a comprehensive overhaul of food safety regulations next year, in a move that aims to strengthen oversight and accountability within the food industry.
Speaking at a press conference in St. George’s last week, Acting Chief Environmental Health Officer Kenneth Hazzard revealed that a renewed focus on implementing and enforcing the Food Safety legislation is in the works, emphasising the need for all food businesses on the island to register under the Food Safety Act No. 19 of 2015.
“All food businesses will be required to register,” said Hazzard, who noted that the upcoming changes will not only require registration but will also introduce a government-determined registration fee. The announcement comes amid an ongoing inspection exercise targeting food establishments.
The Environmental Health Department has been conducting rigorous inspections, prompted by recent reports of food-borne illnesses associated with various outlets. THE NEW TODAY has been reliably informed of at least two (2) food establishments in the St. Andrew and St. Mark area that received cease operations notices recently as the Ministry takes action to ensure public safety.
The presence of rodents, unsanitary conditions, and improper storage are some of the red flags that would prompt the issuance of a temporary closure notice. The inspection scope is not limited to traditional food outlets as the Ministry is also extending its scrutiny to other premises following public complaints.
Hazzard outlined plans to expand inspections to smaller establishments such as food shops, bars, and food vendors, reinforcing the government’s commitment to ensuring public safety. With the Christmas season approaching, Hazzard encourages food handlers to prioritise safe production and delivery, especially during a time of increased food consumption.
The Food Safety legislation is among several pieces that have been announced by Health Minister Johnathan La Crette as part of his ministry’s legislative agenda for 2024. The Food Safety Act No. 19 of 2015 provides for the registration and licensing of food businesses.
It also sets out the rules for the establishment of a Food Safety Authority to regulate food safety and the quality of food produced, sold, stored, distributed, imported into and exported from Grenada.