E-coli bacteria found in samples Inspectorate suspends Cole Bay IcePOSTED: 08/28/13 3:29 PM
St. Maarten – After two weeks of investigations into the operations and safety standards of ice manufacturing plants, the Inspectorate of Public Health has found at least one facility below standard. Food safety inspectors say they found E. coli, bacteria that may cause gastro-intestinal illness, at Cole Bay Ice resulting in its closure.
“Cole Bay Ice was in violation of basic minimum hygiene requirements for a manufacturing plant. Consequently the operation was closed by the Inspectorate until the minimum requirements as set by legislation are met,” Inspector General Dr. Earl Best said yesterday.
Plants such as the one in Cole Bay who sell and/or distribute ice for consumption to the public are being audited in accordance with the ordinance on “Waren”, the ordinance on “Drinking water” and the ordinance on “Drinking water Quality.”
The plants are being audited for compliance with hygiene standards and the quality of the ice is measured by having samples analyzed by the water lab of SLS. All producers of ice also need to have a mandatory sample testing program of their own in place for safety and quality assurance and keep a log of the results for future inspections.
Younique Ice and Cake House Ice were able to escape Inspectorate sanctions having been found in full compliance with safety standards.
The Inspectorate says that all producers selling ice must have minimum their company name, contact information and production date on the ice bags.
Hotels and large restaurants producing ice for sale will also be audited during the regular inspections.
Meanwhile, the Inspectorate is also in the process of setting up a bottled water testing program. The same legislation applies to bottled water. Importers and distributors must be in compliance and are required to have a mandatory sample testing program in place before distributing to the public.
The food safety division of the Inspectorate is urging anyone producing, importing, distributing, and selling any of these products to be in compliance with island’s safety standards.