Opinion: Hygiene

POSTED: 09/20/11 11:57 AM

Public Health Minister Richard Visser recently discovered something everybody knows but never thinks about. Hygiene in pubs and restaurants leaves a lot to be desired.
This is a point of concern for people with a sensitive stomach. They may come home after a nice evening out and not feel well, but they seldom make the connection between their condition and the hygiene in the pub or the restaurant they went to.
We remember with gusto a survey in the Netherlands that illustrates the point. In the survey inspectors took samples from peanuts that bars offer for free to their clients (to make them drink more). The result of the survey was astonishing and cured thousands of people from eating free peanuts. The inspectors found traces of 27 different urines in the peanuts. That proves that bar flies go to the bathroom on a regular basis, but that they seldom wash their hands.
Pub owners have found a solution for this disgusting situation: they now serve their peanuts in a small glass vase that customers have to turn upside down to get some peanuts.
The peanut-example illustrates that hygiene in public places is a two-way street. We do not imagine that pub-owners add traces of urine to the peanuts they put on the bar; but their customers do.
Concerns about hygiene go beyond the bar. In restaurants and take-away places the customer simply has to trust that the kitchen staff follows proper procedures to ensure that the food they put on the table is safe.
In this respect, restaurants with an open kitchen have an advantage. The Peg Leg Pub at the Princess Casino is an example of this model. Diners are able to see what happen in the kitchen and what’s more, they are able to assess the general condition of the place where their food is prepared in terms of cleanliness.
Minister Visser has announced more controls in Aruba; we like that idea, because it will stimulate restaurant and pub owners to do what they are supposed to do. That creates a win-win situation, something we could use very well in St. Maarten as well.

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