The Code of Practice for food vendors What the People say about...
By Andre Haynes
Stabroek News
September 1, 2003

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In two months a Code of Practice for food vendors which has been drafted by the Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) is expected to be instituted. The code will ensure that vendors comply with basic food safety requirements such as wearing hair nets and aprons, as well as other standards. As a result we asked the man/woman-in-the-street for their opinions on the new Code of Practice. Here were their thoughts:

Sharon Lee - confidential secretary: `I usually donít buy things from people on the street, but when I have they look pretty good. They wear aprons and hats, but I donít know whether they wear gloves or cut their fingernails, Iíve never checked their hands.
If I am walking on the streets and I am hungry, I guess I would stop and I would not check for all of that... But [the code] would make me feel more comfortable, knowing that there is a law ensuring that they have to have good hygienic standards. Then I can stop and buy from them instead of those expensive restaurants like Kwality or Salt and Pepper.í

Sherlock Heywood - joiner: `I think the standards could improve in the area of hygiene but itís going to be very difficult. If you try to impose too many conditions as far as to what people have to wear, they might find it unreasonable. But with regard to hygiene these people should be in compliance; they should have their nails cut and clean. In relation to their environment, as you can see the city itself is in a deplorable state. Itís not the vendors themselves but the location. But there are some specific areas which are not conducive for selling food. But they have to impose hygiene standards on vendors because if you set no standards, you get none.í

Maylene Troyer - food vendor: `That is right and I have all those things that they call for. Itíll ensure that people who have infectious diseases wonít be able to sell food to people. Itíll ensure the safety of the people. If some people canít comply, they can find something else to do.í

Dimitri Rampersaud - office assistant: `I think they should have to wear aprons and hair nets because food is something that is a very important thing, and they need to ensure that it is handled in a hygienic place. But I do think that the people who are selling now are trying to comply with proper hygienic standards to attract customers.í

Vivica Ishrilall - food vendor: `Itís a wise idea because if you have to sell food on the roads you have to be tidy. You have to have a food handling certificate. A medical certificate. You have to wear a hair net. There are a lot of things. I myself am up to standard. I think they will most likely have to do a lot of work in the country areas where those people [are] maybe selling icicles to children at schools. It would be wise if somebody inquires about them. I know some people who are selling food who have long nails or nail polish and it is out of the question for handling food.í

Murtland Sober - pharmacist/registered nurse: `I think that is a good move. Only yesterday I purchased something from a woman and I was kind of cautious about it, because she came by the pharmacy and brought some stuff and I had reason to question her health. I think the Code would be a good measure; my only concern is that the GNBS will find people who are committed to doing this.í

Simone Dornford - housewife: `I believe itís a right idea for them to wear proper clothing and [be] located far away from the pollution. I have on occasions bought from some people and itís okay I guess. They are providing a service for everyone. But in the Stabroek area they are selling in unclean conditions. Sometimes they sell and they just dump their waste right there. They never clean the area where they are selling. And as for the food handling certificate, Iím quite sure that a lot of them donít have it. Itís a good idea to implement that Code.í

Oswald McLean - food vendor: `I think itís the right thing for them because they are dealing the food that people have to eat. It will be better for their health. I have a food handlerís certificate and all of their proposals will not be a lot of trouble. And in the first place, if you donít have yourself in the right conditions people wonít buy from you.í

Nadira Persaud - housewife: `Itís a good idea to protect the customers, because hairs can get into the food or maybe fingernails. It will ensure peopleís safety, especially children,
because there are a lot of vendors around schools and children would stop and buy something. And as you can see the environment in town is not clean. But I think it might be difficult to get all these people to comply with the standards and maybe they should have inspectors who would go around and ensure that they all are wearing the aprons and have their nails cuts and the certificates. I donít think it would be difficult in the country areas because most of them already have that and there are not a lot of people.í

Vernon Kryenhoff - snow-cone vendor: `It makes sense, itís hygiene. You canít expect to sell food to people and have your things messy. I have always been sanitary; itís my style. But I can understand why some people would sell in some unsanitary places, because a lot of the times members of the constabulary would chase from where they are selling to these places.í

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