UNHYGIENIC FOOD COMMON IN SAMOA

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APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Mar 16) – Cooked food sold at Samoa’s Fugalei Market are stored and served in unhygienic conditions, retired Food Technologist, Orlando Huaman warned yesterday.

Not only are they unwrapped but are exposed to passers-by, some of them may be ill, Mr Huaman said.

He said the general area is unhygienic with people sleeping in the market place.

The food is served warm, an ideal breeding climate for bacteria, he said.

"It has to be hot," Mr Human told the Samoa Observer.

"Because that way the bacteria is in check, they don't multiply."

"Food for the public should be served either hot, or cold," Mr Huaman said.

"But not in-between."

Mr Huaman said he tests the hotness of food at restaurants and places like the Food Court by the steam coming off it and the containers in which they are held.

"If the containers are too hot to touch, it's OK," he said.

Mr Huaman said he is a consultant for FAO, JICA and Ministry of Agriculture.

Told that there has been no reports of anyone falling seriously ill, or dying from eating food at the market, he said, "Exactly."

But he said no one knows who goes home and becomes sick there.

Secondly, he warned that eating in unhygienic places can be compared to an owner of a motor vehicle.

The owner can go 10 years without an accident and then has a really bad one.

"You've got to protect, not cure," he said.

Vegetables like Chinese cabbage, lettuce, etc., used by restaurants should be dipped in water mixed with a small measure of chlorinated water before cooking.

"You dip it, don't leave it there," he said.

The chlorine causes insects, parasites and bacteria to let go of vegetables and drop off, the food technologist said.

Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Health, Palanitina Toelupe is overseas and could not be contacted for a comment.

Questions faxed to Acting CEO, Professor Pelenatete Stowers were not replied to at press time.

Both General Manager of National Health Services, Dr Stanley Dean and Lemalu Dr Limbo Fiu were busy.

But Mr Huaman made the comments following reports about calls from New Zealand to ban talo and palusami cooked here from entering there.

Manukau City Councillor Su'a William Sio and Porirua City Councillor Luafataali'i Litea Ah Hoi want talo and palusami banned after three people in Porirua were treated for typhoid by Wellington Regional Public Health officers.

Two of the cases were members of one family. Two of the cases surfaced in late January, the other in early February.

Dr Annette Nesdale, medical officer of health, regional public health, Wellington, says that the most likely source of infection was food brought from Samoa by a returning traveller.

Su'a believes the more families who bring island foods from Samoa, the greater the risk of typhoid becoming an epidemic.

"The last thing we want is for an outbreak of typhoid in New Zealand," he says.

"Besides talo, palusami, breadfruit, … all (island foods) can be found or cooked in New Zealand where we have clean water supplies and where there is greater awareness regarding cleanliness and high standards in food preparation."

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