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Jun 7, 2019

Keeping Our Foods Safe

Unsafe foods kill four hundred and twenty thousand persons every year around the world. These are deaths that are preventable. When we consume unsafe foods it puts our health at risk, a strain on our resources including the health care system and it also affects economy, tourism, trade and development. Today, BAHA and the Belize Bureau of Standards got together to observe world food safety day and world accreditation day where they raised the awareness of the importance of food safety measures and practices. News Five stopped in at today’s event. Reporter Andrea Polanco tells us more about what these two entities do to ensure that we consume safe foods.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

How do you know that the food you eat is safe? The Belize Agricultural Health Authority is one of the entities that helps to ensure that foods produced in Belize are safe for consumption. Millions of people get sick and over four hundred thousand die from eating contaminated globally each year. Here in Belize, the statistics are not as clear in – but the risk of eating contaminated food ranges from mild discomfort to life threatening illnesses. To ensure that the food we eat is safe – that it is not contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemicals, safety starts from the farm to plate. The World Food Safety Theme “Food Security, everyone’s business” recognizes that everyone on the food chain from the farmer, farm supplier, food processor, transporter, marketer to the consumer is responsible for food safety.


Miguel Figueroa

Dr. Miguel Figueroa, Food Safety Director, BAHA

“At the farm level you have people growing chickens, pigs or cattle that go to the slaughter house.  At the farm level they have to have healthy animals that are free of contaminants residues. So, we put the responsible primarily on the farmers because they have to ensure that whatever animals go to the facility or slaughter house that it is not sick or don’t have chemicals like antibiotics or so before slaughter.  We as BAHA, we have the animal health department that does inspections at those farms to ensure that the animals are healthy and vaccinated. So, from farm, it goes to processing where they have to comply with good manufacturing processes, hygienic practices and from there it goes to the transport; the distribution to the different outlets such as retail shops, supermarkets, restaurants.”


BAHA, the Public Health and law enforcement entities monitor and monitoring and enforce safety regulations in the transportation of food. Places that prepare food are also responsible, as well as the consumer.


Dr. Miguel Figueroa

“The retail shops, the restaurants also have a responsibility that they prepare the food in a healthy and hygienic manner. The of course, we the consumers, it ends up on our table so we also have a role to play.We have to use water to wash your product. You need to have proper storage as well – you can’t leave your food out for several hours and then eat it. You have to do your part as well for food safety.”


The Belize Bureau of Standards is responsible to for standards and quality infrastructure for goods and services in country.


Jose Trejo

Jose Trejo, Director, Belize Bureau of Standards

“How do you know it is safe? Well, it is important that you have systems in place to test the product, inspect the product and sample the product. All of that is a part of a greater standard called the ISO 17025 in terms of testing for products. It is important that we have that competency and capability in country to be able to take products from production line and test it. It is not just to test it but to also have international recognition. It allows you to ensure safety of food in the supply chain and it is important for us if we graduate from the domestic market into the international market that the product is tested for whatever scope of testing is done and that the product is safe.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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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