(ANTIGUA OBSERVER) – The Ministry of Health is on high alert for possible cases of salmonella, E. coli and shigella poisoning after a batch of contaminated meat marked for destruction was stolen.
Lionel “Max” Hurst, government’s chief of staff, said that several cartons of condemned pork and poultry were removed from an area where they were to be buried, not far from Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Grounds and the government abattoir on October 31.
Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rhonda Sealy-Thomas told OBSERVER yesterday that there is no easy way to identify the tainted meat, but she urged consumers to pay attention to the tell-tale signs that meat may not be safe for human consumption.
“If it is discoloured when you purchase it, or while it is at your home there is an odour, then these are things that will alert you to the fact that the product may not be safe for consumption. Also, purchase your product from reputable sources. For example, we regularly inspect the meat from all the major supermarkets, either the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Agriculture,” she said.
Hurst added that the Health Ministry reported to Cabinet that due to the danger of salmonella and other poisonings that could result when humans consume condemned pork and poultry products, the police have been called in to find the thieves who carted off the spoiled foods.
Sealy-Thomas urged consumers not to accept meat being sold or distributed under suspicious circumstances.
“All of these meats would have bacteria on them normally, but what if they are not stored properly then what will happen is that all their bacteria and other organisms would multiply and get to a rate where they can cause illnesses,” she said.
“Some of these organisms on their own do not cause harm but they produce toxins that cause illnesses such as vomiting, diarrhoea and gastroenteritis,” she concluded.