Cole Bay Ice Plant operations halted because of non-compliance

POSTED: 10/8/13 11:18 AM

St. Maarten – Inspector General, Dr. Earl Best explains in a statement to the press yesterday that the Inspectorate of the Ministry of VSA would like to inform the general people about recent unofficial publications in the media concerning the Cole Bay Ice plant, containing incorrect information, speculations and false accusations towards the Inspectorate.

According to Best, one of the many tasks of the Inspectorate as established by legislation is to monitor and ensure the quality of drinking water. This includes the water as distributed by GEBE through its network, bottled water and ice.  “The legal basis for this authority and the quality requirements are laid down in the “Inspectorate Ordinance”, the “Commodities Ordinance” the “Drinkwater Ordinance” and the “Ordinance Drinkwater quality”,” he says.

For 2013 the Inspectorate has as one of its goals a more strict supervision and enforcement on the quality of drink water and ice. The most important requirements are to have a water and ice sampling program in place, maintaining a log book of the lab analysis and maintaining the facility and plant operations in accordance with HACCP regulations. Water and ice samples are tested by the lab on physical, chemical and bacteriological parameters.

In the month August the main ice manufacturers and suppliers were inspected, Best continues.  These are Cole Bay Ice Plant, Younique Water and Cake House. From the French side Igloo Ice was inspected in cooperation with the French authorities. Hotels producing ice for own consumption are inspected during the regular F&B inspections. The Inspectorate takes samples of both the water intake and ice and also swabs of specific areas for analysis, the Inspectorate says.

Younique, Cake House and Igloo were in compliance, Best said. The operation of Cole Bay Ice Plant was shut down by the Inspectorate in August because of this facility and the product (ice) not being in compliance with stipulated requirements, e.g. having no testing program in place, non HACCP compliant and the water and ice contaminated with fecal E-Coli bacteria. He said that on two re-inspections some non-compliant items were corrected, however the water and swabs of the machine up until the last inspection two weeks ago still demonstrated the presence of E-Coli.  Samples were taken to both SLS and GEBE lab and both tested positive.

The Inspectorate concluded that there has to be cross- contamination somewhere from the cistern and/or well and advised the owner to take appropriate measures to prevent this.

To be able to resume operations, the re-inspection will have to demonstrate full compliance.

The Inspectorate will continue with its strict supervision and enforcing legislation and will publish the results of the testing of the many brands of bottled water shortly, Best concluded.


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