Pirates Week food vendors required to take safety course

Pirates who work up an appetite at the Pirates Week festivities at the weekend will be able to avail of dishes from vendors who have undergone food safety courses. - Photo: Taneos Ramsay

Food vendors looking to sell their fare at the upcoming Pirates Week festivities are required to have taken a food safety training course put on by the Department of Environmental Health.

“We’re very, very proactive in the training session,” DEH acting Environmental Health Manager Gideon Simms said.

Nearly 40 food vendors are expected to line the streets of George Town on 9-10 Nov. as part of the annual Pirates Week celebrations. They are mandated by the DEH to do so only after training, which is especially important given that much of the food on sale is cooked by individuals in their respective homes rather than in a licensed restaurant.

“One of the saving graces is that we cook food in Cayman to the death almost … the conch stew and all of that,” Simms said. “So unless somebody uses a dirty spoon to introduce bacteria, usually everything is cooked unless there’s toxins remaining that would not have been affected.”

Pirates Week organisers say food-borne illness has not been an issue.

“Nothing has ever been officially reported to the festival office,” Pirates Week Executive Director Melanie McField told the Cayman Compass.

Simms says two training sessions have already been held and another is planned. It will be difficult for vendors to try and set up shop if they haven’t taken the course, he said.

“On the day of the activity, we go out, because we ask that all food operatives take their DEH-issued certificate with them, so everybody has to have their copy there,” Simms said. “And, of course, I know everybody on island by now, so there’s no getting away. I know who come and who don’t come.”

5 food safety rules
• Wash hands between steps
• Sanitise work surfaces.
• Use separate cutting boards for raw meats, vegetables and produce, and cooked foods
• Cook foods to safe temperatures
• Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold