ST JAMES, Jamaica — Four supermarkets, a restaurant and a bakery in Montego Bay were on Tuesday ordered closed by health officials, and there are plans to focus on street food vendors next.
"Some of the breaches identified were pest infestation and temperature abuse during cold storage. Additionally, 400 pounds of pig carcass that were found uninspected in storage were seized and condemned," said Chief Public Health Inspector for the Parish Shericka Lewis.
She said rat-bitten fruit juices were also seen during a visit to one of the business places.
Fourteen establishments were visited by health officials, the police and representatives from the National Solid Waste Management Authority as part of the ongoing thrust to restore public order in St James, dubbed Operation Restore Paradise. Tuesday’s closures were the first major clampdown by health officials since the initiative was launched in August.
“We have been closing several food establishments in any one day, so that is a normal part of our operations here in St James, but because of the focus yesterday that's why we were able to close such a large number," Lewis explained on Wednesday.
"It is a concern and we want operators of food establishments to ensure that they are maintaining minimum acceptable standards of the public health food handling regulations," she appealed.
Tuesday’s clampdown focused mostly on establishments within the commercial area of St James Street. Lewis said there are plans to do a nighttime operation that will focus on street food vendors.
She also urged consumers to be careful.
"When you're purchasing food items, ensure you purchase from a reputable source. We conduct inspections for certifying food establishments that are issued with health certificates that should be placed in a conspicuous area in the establishment where you can easily see it," she advised.