Public Health Communications Specialist
Ministry of Health/Social Development
The Environmental Health Division is reminding grocery store and supermarket owners and managers of their need to adhere to the Public Health (Food Hygiene) Regulations.
Acting Chief Environmental Health Officer, Mrs. Yolanda Penn said, “Food offered for sale should be sold within the expiration date or the ‘sell by’ date on the item. The ‘sell by’ date is the date in which the manufacturer is guaranteeing that the product is safe and wholesome, therefore items should not be sold after that date.”
Consumers are also asked to pay close attention to the ‘sell by’ and ‘use by’ dates on food items before purchasing to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
According to the Public Health (Food Hygiene) Regulations, public health officials “may condemn, seize and carry away any food which is diseased, unsound, unwholesome or unfit for human consumption.”
In an effort to ensure that consumers can enjoy an acceptable level of food quality and safety throughout the Territory, the Environmental Health Division conducts periodic inspections of warehouses and supermarkets.
“We are verifying whether food safety standards are being met and working with proprietors to ensure compliance with the law. Any food items found to be beyond the ‘sell by’ or ‘use by’ date will be condemned. In addition, we will be looking at how food is stored,” Mrs. Penn said.
Foods must be stored at safe food temperatures to ensure wholesomeness. Cold foods must be stored at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or 5 degrees Celsius or below, while hot food must be stored at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or 60 degrees Celsius.
“These temperatures prevent dangerous bacteria from multiplying and making food unsafe,” Mrs. Penn noted.
The Environmental Health Division is committed to ensuring that all aspects of the environment with the potential to negatively impact health are managed efficiently to enable all persons in the BVI to attain and maintain optimal health.