Be Prepared for the Kitchen Monitor
Next Tuesday, the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards (SLBS) will visit a number of food establishments in Castries with an aim to raise public awareness of food hygiene and safety. The exercise dubbed ‘Kitchen Monitor – Are you cooking safely?’ is one of the activities slated to mark November as Business Month.
The outreach programme will see a number of groups who are in the food preparation business over the years but have not been sensitized to the issues of food safety and food hygiene. The SLBS claims that food safety is a huge public health concern with a number of emergency healthcare and hospitalizations being of a direct result of food borne illnesses contracted particularly by the consumption of food offered for sale under poor conditions.
Public health campaigns to stop food borne illnesses have become a major priority for health promotion the world over. The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) estimates the economic cost of food borne illnesses to the Caribbean at two to US$40 million dollars with the average annual cost of treatment at $21 million dollars.
For its part the SLBS has been offering standards and training on the topic of food hygiene and safety to providers of street food outlets and to the agro processing and manufacturing sectors in response to its mandate to protect health and safety. The SLBS offers training courses in food safety and HACCP as well as a Food Certification System, which puts food establishments at the forefront of maintaining good practices that protects the health of their customers.
The outreach will see the deployment of technical staff of the SLBS who will distribute information on food safety targeting both food vendors and consumers. The hope is for food vendors to get trained in healthy food preparation practices and for consumers to look out for the danger signs that are putting them at risk.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a three-year Stand-By Arrangement for Jamaica geared towards raising living standards and boosting employment.
The US$1.64 billion will replace the existing Extended Fund Facility (EFF), which was scheduled to expire in March 2017.
The Fund said approximately $411.9 million will be made immediately available and the remainder will be provided in six tranches upon completion of semi-annual program reviews.
According to the IMF, Jamaican authorities have indicated they do not intend to draw down on the new SBA, but will treat it as “insurance against unforeseen adverse external economic shocks.”
In announcing the new deal, IMF Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, Tao Zhang commended the country for achieving key targets under the EFF.
“Macroeconomic stability has been entrenched, evidenced by low inflation, the buildup of foreign currency reserves, and a decline in the current account deficit. Fiscal discipline and proactive debt management have helped place public debt on a downward trajectory,” he said.
He however warned that lingering challenges including low growth, poverty, unemployment and crime.
The Washington-based financial body noted growth had only reached 0.8 per cent over the three-year EFF, but improved to 1.4 percent for the first quarter of this year, supported by gains in agriculture, manufacturing, electricity generation and tourism.
“Growth in FY2016/17 is expected to reach 1.7 percent in FY16/17. Business confidence is strong and Jamaica’s international bonds are trading close to the average rate of other emerging markets. Unemployment is still high at 13.7 percent in April 2016, which partly reflects an increase in labor force participation,” the IMF said.
It noted that the objectives of the new programme included more support for job creation, improving public sector efficiency, strengthening the social safety net and reduce public debt to 60 per cent of GDP by 2025/2026 by maintaining primary surplus at seven percent of GDP for the duration of the new arrangement.
Pictured above is the International Monetary Fund’s Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, Tao Zhang.