PAHO hosts food safety consultation

The consultation ensures that Saint Lucia will have access to safe food and water after a disaster.

The Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), recently held a four-day consultation on food safety, with stakeholder organizations.

The consultation aimed to integrate food safety into health disaster management.

“In normal disaster management your focus is on the immediate response—disaster preparation and saving lives,” PAHO International Food Safety Consultant, Mary-Ann Green explained. “In many cases the issue of food safety gets pushed back while the emergency is going on. So this consultation focuses on ensuring that Saint Lucia will have access to safe food and water, [especially] after a disaster.”

Glensford Joseph, Health Disaster Coordinator, said the concept of food safety is to reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses.

“We are engaging key personnel in order to go through food safety management protocols,” he said. “It gives us an opportunity to evaluate our position, our protocols, our policies, our guidelines and procedures so that we can identify gaps and areas where we can strengthen our operations. This will give us an opportunity to revisit our guidelines and to establish new policies where needed.”

The Health Disaster Coordinator said food safety should not be placed under the microscope only during a disaster, but should be an everyday concern.

The consultation comprised of representatives of key organizations including NEMO, the Environmental Health Department, the Department of Agriculture, the Veterinary Unit, the Crop Protection Unit and the Department of Fisheries, among others.

The consultation was held on Feb. 27.