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Food registry on tap after recent recalls

Following several recent recalls on imported food products, the government is eyeing the development of a food registry to help quicken response times for recalled products, Bahamas Agricultural and Food Safety Authority (BAHFSA) Food Safety and Quality Director Dr. Patricia Johnson announced yesterday.

“You would have noticed that there are a number of recalls that have been in the news lately, in particular with beef and foreign matter such as metals in our meats,” she said.

“So, in helping to strengthen our ability to recall food items in a timely manner, we will be proposing the development of a food registry, and that would allow retailers, wholesalers and all persons who import foods to be able to register the foods that they bring into the country to allow us a better time period or a quicker response for items that are being recalled.

“So, we will work with partnering agencies to ensure that food safety measures are kept high.”

Johnson made the comments at a press conference at the Ministry of Agriculture in recognition of World Food Safety Day, which will be celebrated on June 7. BAHFSA Executive Director Christopher Worrell said the authority “is committed to strengthening its regulatory, scientific and technological capacities to address the rising concerns of food safety” as he underscored the need for universal access to safe, nutritious food.

Speaking more broadly to the authority’s efforts to ensure food safety, Johnson said one of the most immediate priorities for BAHFSA is addressing blatant food safety-related concerns in the community.

Pointing to numerous cases of conch poisoning that struck New Providence last year, she said basic food safety knowledge can go a long way in preventing the spread of pathogens.

“One simple solution is to simply use potable water in terms of washing off the conch,” she said.

“One of the things we need to do is educate the public and make them aware of basic steps in food safety that they can partake in to ensure that food is safe and nutritious and has little chance of picking up any pathogens that can be harmful to one’s health and well-being.”

Johnson said BAHFSA will also be responsible for policing food safety, and that consumers will be able to report concerns to the authority.

“I guess you can call us sort of like the police. We will be working with the enforcement agencies to ensure that they do what they need to do,” she said.

“So, when a consumer goes into the store and they see something that is awry and it shouldn’t be on the shelf, they should have an arm to which they can make that report.”

She added, “We will work with partnership agencies…to ensure that they manage the whole scope of food safety in terms of making sure that certain products are pulled off the shelf if the expiration date is there. That foods that show signs of deterioration are not still on the shelves, for example.

“So, we will work with partnering agencies to ensure that food safety measures are kept high.”

Rachel Knowles

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues.
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish
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