Chicken vendors risk arrest

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Food vendors trading in chicken legs in an unhygienic and unenclosed environment and structures will be arrested and prosecuted if caught, according to Momodou Lamin Nget, Head of the Food and Hygiene Unit at the Department of State for Health and Social Welfare.

He said this move is in line with Section 17 of the Public Health Act, Cap 40:03, which gives them power to arrest, detain, charge and prosecute anyone who endangers public health and safety.
Mr. Nget made these remarks yesterday in an interview with the Daily Observer, following the launching of a raid to clear the highways and the streets of chicken leg vendors whose trade runs contrary to the Public Health Act. The exercise which started on Friday came following directives from Dr Tamsir Mbowe, Secretary of State for Health and Social Welfare.

The phenomenon attracted the watchful eyes of the state department as more people attempted to deal in the trade, as could be found at various spots across the country.
Public health officers were seen in and around the vicinity of West Field, Serrekunda and Wellingara clearing the municipality of vendors operating in unhygienic and unenclosed areas. The health officers confiscated an inordinate number of chicken legs and cooking utensils (coal-pot and grilling machines) during the exercises.

Speaking to the Daily Observer, Mr. Nget said the manner in which the chicken legs are prepared and roasted is substandard. He said the vendors make the environment smoky, with no proper preservation systems for the chicken legs. He observed that these vendors have a habit of re-freezing chicken legs after exposing them to the environment. According to him, this practice encourages the development of bacteria, such as salmonella and shidella, which cause food poisoning that leads to diarrohea, vomitting, nausea and even death.

Mr. Nget highlighted that these practices are “prejudicial” to the health of the public, saying the Department of State for Health and Social Welfare will not accept or tolerate it.
He said the vendors must ensure that they operate in an enclosed environment, with flies and dust proofs. “It must be ventilated and there must also be proper lighting and a good source of water supply. There must also be a toilet facility,” he explained.

The Food and Hygiene head advised those vendors operating under such conditions to report to the nearest health facility for advice. He pointed out that the exercise is not meant to discourage people from trading in chicken legs, but to ensure that the law of the land prevails. He told the Daily Observer that the exercise will cover the entire country and urged vendors operating below the standards to stop with immediate effect or risk prosecution.


Author: Written by Ebrima Jaw Manneh
Source: The Daily Observer Newspaper