Health Ministry Shuts Down 3 Rat Infested Restaurants in Portmore

Amid the national spotlight of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Portmore, St Catherine, public health inspectors from the St. Catherine Health Department have closed three food handling establishments for a number of breaches, including roach and rat infestation, improper food storage and other sanitary issues.

"Three food handling establishments were ordered closed in the municipality of Portmore by the St Catherine Health Department on Thursday, April 2, 2020, due to breaches of the Public Health (Food Handling) Regulations," Grayson Hutchinson, Chief Public Health Officer for St Catherine, said.

"The officers continue to carry out inspections of food establishments in the parish in an effort to ensure that the standards are being met and foods prepared, displayed and served are safe for human consumption.

“The establishments ordered closed were one bakery, one food shop and one cook shop," Hutchinson outlined.

He listed the deficiencies that were observed, including lack of valid food handlers’ permits, outer openings unsecured, and general insanitary conditions.

"Each establishment was visited at least two times and the defects were outlined with suitable recommendations for improvements. The proprietors failed to correct the breaches and bring the facilities up to compliance despite repeated visits, hence closures were effected," Hutchinson said.

The affected establishments are to remain closed until the improvement works have been carried out and the public health requirements are met.

Hutchinson said a notice was also served on the National Water Commission (NWC) to desist from discharging inadequately treated sewage into the storm water drain in the community, and remove excessive overgrowth of water lilies in the ponds.

He observed that the Greater Portmore Sewage Ponds on the eastern side are presently colonised with water lilies, and have become an important vector for the breeding of mosquitoes.

“The (public health) department continues to fog communities in Greater Portmore, but our efforts are futile, due to the excessive breeding of mosquitoes in the ponds. The residents of Greater Portmore have also complained recently about odour nuisance in their communities," Hutchinson indicated.

The matter was investigated and it was revealed that the NWC has been discharging sewage from the grit chamber directly into the Lower West Henderson Drain. The NWC is reported to have insisted that the action was a temporary measure, but the situation has reportedly persisted for days.

Hutchinson said the NWC is being given a short period of time to remedy the problem, with representatives of the public health department slated to revisit the location shortly.