Keeping fast-foods in check

You have control of your own kitchen.

At least you know how clean it is, what you’re eating and how it’s been prepared.

But in the case of restaurants, kai-bars and fast-foods, you have no idea how they’re treating you.

That’s where Environmental Health Officers come into play. They are simply the eyes of the public.

“We basically monitor and keep surveillance for food safety. We do routine inspections to any business house that sells food,” says Silas Jonathan, NCD Senior Environmental Health Officer.

“My team mostly targets mini-restaurants and food outlets. But we also act upon any complains raised by the public,” he says.

Under the Public Health Act, these officers are empowered to enter any food-selling business at any time during working hours for its routine inspections.

Inspections cover general building condition (if it’s appropriate for food preparations), facilities and equipment, sanitation practice, water (including hot water system) and employees (staff) hygiene and dressing among others.

“In case of a complaint, we investigate checking every aspect. If we find the business house not in par with requirements in place, we issue a notice based on how high or low the risk is. We write our independent report, and closely monitor them in a given time frame. If they fail to comply by that given time, we have the power to shut down the business immediately,” he said.

“But we do not have the power to charge any business house. The consumer who raised the complaint or provincial health authority however, can take the business house to court,” he added.

The office also goes beyond just food.

“Our responsibility is public health so we look at any issues that are health related such as breeding illegal animals in the city, school inspections, health inspections, water safety, and cemetery and vector control. Food safety is one of them,” he said.

Health complaints in NCD can be raised with the office: Chief Health Surveyor Isowa Morea (323 3212) or Senior Environmental Health Officer Silas Jonathan 324 0638). The office is located at the NCDC City Hall.



Gloria Bauai