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May 31, 2019

Certifying Belizean Chefs in Food Safety

Chefs from across the country took part in sixteen hours of intense training spread across four days this week, to learn professional standards of food handling, as well as the importance of food safety in the domestic and tourism industries.  The workshop concluded today at the ITVET in Belize City.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano has that story.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The Belize Culinary Association, a group of professional chefs working at various resorts and restaurants across the country, has concluded a training session for its membership.  The past four days have seen them participating in a number of sessions, including practical cooking classes where they are evaluated by a team of world-class chefs.  Jeffrey Rotz is Project Coordinator for Chefs Helping Chefs.


Jeffrey Rotz

Jeffrey Rotz, Project Director, Chefs Helping Chefs

“Here in Belize, we’re working with the chefs of the Belize Culinary Association with Chef Kareem about working on certification.  So we take the cooks and chefs to a certification level where they have, like I have a Certified Executive Chef, I’m a certified culinarian.  The certification is all education, industry experience, practical cooking evaluations, in other words, you actually have to cook in front of evaluators and they are tested for their basic skills and then there’s a theory class and this gives the evaluation or certification for that young chef, it gives them some bite to their title.”


For Kareem Mejia, President of the Belize Culinary Association, the course is an excellent opportunity for chefs and food handlers to learn the science behind preparing food safely.


Kareem Mejia

Kareem Mejia, President, Belize Culinary Association

“This is a wealth of knowledge in regards to providing food safety for our communities, our families and our businesses.  And in regards to impact, you’re looking whereby to give training in regards to how to prepare food safely, how to handle your food safely, how to address and also identify risks that can also be prevented, from you making food that is bad.  So it is an education for every key stakeholder.  We’re in a service industry whereby tourism is key in a sense, it’s a great part of our GDP, but if one mistake was made in regards to food poisoning or the poisoning of food, it cripples us.”


The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, IICA, was instrumental in facilitating the workshop.


Willie Chan

Willie Chan, Technical Coordinator, IICA

“Last year, we did a training called linking farmers and chefs and it was in the culinary industry and we got a request from the association that they wanted to further their skills, specifically with regards to operational standards and food safety.  One of our mandates is agricultural health and food safety in IICA, it’s in our medium term plan to assist our member countries to achieve overall sustainable development in agricultural health and food security.  So we came here with two certified chefs that are providing services from Global Food Handlers Certificate to the industry and this is very, very important since the demand for safe food and quality food is critical to public health.  So by educating the food handlers, we safeguard ourselves from whatever food-borne illness or outbreak that might occur in the industry.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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