Why South city leads in assuring clean food
With eating out, as a sit-down or as a take-out experience, now part of today’s lifestyle, focussed attention to safety and sanitation has lagged behind felt need for such intervention. It is thus impressive that San Fernando, T&T’s second city, has been taking the lead in assuring both that consumers can eat out without undue worry, and that the products they buy and eat meet acceptable standards.
Mayor Navi Muradali and the city’s public health department take justifiable pride in their “DineSafe” programme launched last week. This entails a citywide drive for vigilant oversight of conditions in which food is prepared and served.
Identified with the leadership of Dr Muradali, the programme entails inspection and certification of places serving food, in prepared form, and also in groceries. On the basis of set standards for sanitation, care in preparation, and in storage, San Fernando’s inspectors have been visiting establishments and seeking assurance that criteria for acceptable production and service delivery are consistently met.
Establishments falling short in these respects are liable to be ordered to close their doors, while officially determined improvements are carried out. In the process, such offending food places are also publicly named and shamed, in an admirable effort to deter slackness and to promote compliance with regulated approaches.
If only within San Fernando city limits, “DineSafe”, the food clean-up campaign, has apparently been making a difference. The difference comprises consumers’ confidence that cleanliness prevails in all places where food is made available to the public, and that authorities remain ready, willing and able consistently to enforce applicable regulations.
Moreover, it can only be good for business if establishments are authorised after inspection and review to display “DineSafe” decals confirming their measuring up to criteria satisfying issue of a clean bill of health.
Such has been the success of the San Fernando campaign that Dr Muradali has made bold to call upon authorities in other jurisdictions to adopt similarly vigilant approaches. The San Fernando message of success should be reaching authorities in the national capital, Port of Spain, for one jurisdiction, where food preparation, service and vending take place on a wider scale than in San Fernando.
The eating-out trend has evidently given rise to high-density food-service outlets, including roadside vendors, in St James, Independence Square, Woodbrook, and other areas. Drives by Port of Spain Mayor Louis Lee Sing to upgrade conditions in such places to acceptable order have been more controversially received than in San Fernando.
If T&T’s second city has actually emerged first in class in these respects, the methods governing southern hospitality are eminently worthy of study and emulation by authorities elsewhere. So far, however, Mayor Muradali, without challenge, has been able to boast of San Fernando as “the cleanest place to eat”.