Amidst all the feteing and mas this Carnival season, food safety is one concern that you should pay special attention to. There are many factors that can lead to foodborne disease, more commonly known as food poisoning and you should know what they are.

Not all food vendors may have complete knowledge of proper food safety practices, so it is important to choose wisely. If you depend on street vendors for food, be vigilant of the following:

  • Ensure that the vendors you purchase from have their valid (i.e. not expired) food badges on display and that their appearance is cleanly.
  • Vendors should be wearing hair nets, clean aprons and gloves.
  • The vendor should have facilities that include a supply of clean, potable water in addition to liquid soap that allows him/her to practice regular handwashing.
  • All equipment and utensils should be clean, well-maintained, and made of food grade material (e.g. stainless steel)
  • The vendor should not be showing signs of illness such as excessive sneezing, coughing, runny eyes and nose, vomiting and other such symptoms.
  • The surrounding area should be clean and free from litter, with access to a covered waste container nearby.

Also, when consuming street food or even food served at events be wary of the following:

  • Cooked foods should be served hot (above 60°C) and be held at this temperature for no more than two hours. Avoid foods that are room temperature.
  • Cold foods, like green salads or salads with mayonnaise, should be served at 3-5°C and held for no more than 4 hours.
  • Every dish should have its own serving utensils.
  • Food should be covered when not being served.
  • Cooked foods should not be displayed next to raw foods.

These tips don’t stop at the food you consume – you should also be vigilant about your beverage consumption. In particular, you should pay attention to the water and ice available for drinking. Here are some guidelines to follow:  Ensure that water and ice are free from colour, odour, debris and cloudiness.

  • Use ice made only with clean & drinkable water.
  • Pay attention to the condition of containers used to store water or ice and ensure that they are sanitary.
  • Keep drinking water in a cool, sanitary place to avoid contaminants.
  • Only purchase water and ice from reputable suppliers

If you think you may have gotten a food-borne illness, report it immediately to your local health department, even if you have already recovered. Many times, visits from concerned citizens are how outbreaks are first detected. Once these precautions are followed, your likelihood of contracting any food-borne illness should be low and you can enjoy the rest of the Carnival season in good health.