Today’s Editorial July 25: Illegal food vendors warned

The Caymanian entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well.

It’s evident by the number of food vendor operations that have opened since Hurricane Ivan almost two years ago.

And it’s many of those people Government is going after.

Legal food vendors don’t have to worry.

But illegal food vendors have been warned that a governmental crackdown is coming.

Three types of illegal food vendors are being targeted: those doing street-side barbecuing; those preparing meals in private dwellings and selling them from their vehicles; and those operating from enclosed, substandard facilities.

These will be ferreted out and shut down.

Government isn’t trying to quash the entrepreneurial spirit.

Instead, it wants illegal vendors to become legal, which would help ensure food safety.

Illegal food vendors increase the dangers related to public health for a variety of reasons, including a lack of food safety training, poor food handling and a lack of basic hygiene facilities.

The result could be an outbreak of food poisoning, which can cause gastric problems and even death.

Basically you’re putting yourself at risk by buying food from an illegal vendor you don’t know.

The last illegal food vendor crackdown came in 2003 when 24 people were issued cease-trading orders.

At least one of those has turned the misfortune of being shut down into a profitable legal restaurant business.

Also targeted will be people who sell raw fish along the roadside or seaside. We’ve all heard tales of certain people hawking fish that is less than fresh, giving honest fishermen a bad name.

Illegal food vendors don’t have to panic.

They just have to get a Trade and Business licence and contact the various health agencies to learn what steps they need to take to get regulated.

It’s the right thing to do and vendors have until the end of August to come into compliance.

Most of the food vendors we know – legal and illegal – serve up some mighty good fare. It would be a shame to lose the wonderful food some of the illegal vendors provide because they aren’t registered.

After August day and night inspections of food vendors will take place and anyone caught hawking food illegally will be prosecuted under the Public Health Law.