20 Jan 2020

Cooks businesses want govt rethink on food handling policy

10:14 am on 20 January 2020

Food businesses in the Cook Islands are calling on the government to rethink a strict new health policy it is planning to roll out this year.

Chop suey

Chop suey Photo: RNZ Pacific/MTT

Critics of the policy are particularly worried by a requirement that anyone working with or handling food for sale to the public must undergo a full health check up - including blood testing and stool sample analysis.

The Ministry of Health said the aim of the policy was to make sure locals and visitors were being sold safe food and beverages in a clean environment.

But the president of the Cook Islands Chamber of Commerce, Fletcher Melvin, said the measures were a little extreme.

"We weren't consulted - it's come out of the blue. It sort of has sweeping ramifications for the whole industry - the whole of the Cook Islands, because it doesn't just affect restaurants and hotels - it affects the average mama and papa that sells food at our markets."

He said if food safety was the goal then the ministry should start by introducing more training and awareness about food hygiene and best practice to those in the industry.