THE Ministry of Health is warning against the consumption of meat from a truck that plunged over Flat Bridge into the murky Rio Cobre Wednesday night, killing three persons.
The warning came yesterday, more than 24 hours after dozens of persons were witnessed removing cow's feet and other parts of the animal as well as packs of jumbo sausages, whole chickens and chicken parts from the river -- well over 12 hours after the accident.
The food grab occurred as the bodies of the three men who died in the accident were being recovered from the river. They have been identified as 42-year-old Michael Nicholas, his son 18-year-old Travis, and 25-year-old Kemar Watt.
A rear wheel of the truck reportedly clipped the embankment as it turned onto Flat Bridge, which caused the accident. A fourth man who was in the vehicle survived.
Last night, the ministry said there was a possibility that the quality of the meat could be compromised.
"This is based on the possibility of contamination from the river and the inevitable multiplication of Salmonella species, as well as other types of bacteria, in these products," the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA) stated in a release after a Jamaica Observer query.
This, therefore, means that if consumed, individuals put themselves at great risk of food borne illness," the release added.
SERHA said that frozen meats are safe for human consumption only when they are thawed under cool safe running water or in the refrigerator, prepared in a sanitary manner; cooked thoroughly; and stored safely and at the correct temperature.
"[Frozen food should] not be allowed to stay at room temperature for more than two hours," SERHA warned.
Meanwhile, the St Catherine Health Department said it had started dialogue with Jamaica Broilers, to whom the meats belonged, to ensure that the appropriate actions are taken to limit the health risks the incident may cause.