Ministry of Health moves on health card for food handlers

All food handlers are required by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to undergo medical screening in order to be eligible for a health card.

The purpose of the card is to ensure food handlers are certified to handle and prepare food, and that the food prepared is safe for public consumption.

ACEO of Health Protection and Enforcement, Mae’e Ualesi Silva said “it is within the 2017 regulations and the 2015 Food act that there is a requirement of medical screening for all food handlers.”

“All food handlers are obligated to have health cards. A food handler is a person who directly handles unpackaged food or any food equipment and utensils, or food contact surfaces; and is expected to comply with food hygiene requirements under this Act.

“Before a food handler starts employment in the food business they need to undergo a medical screening test.

“MOH is giving a period since now and end of this year for food handlers to prepare for health cards."

Mae’e also stated that the significance of the card is a certification that food handlers have undergone medical screening with regards to some of the common infectious diseases.

“It is also to make sure that hearing and eyesight are excellent because these are the pre-requisites for all people who are going to have handle food to be aware of so they don’t create problems when they come into contact with food.

“The process is for food handlers to pick a form from the MOH then go see a doctor, and the doctor will advise the applicants on what tests they have to take.

“And it depends on your consultations and if you pass the screening test then the doctor will submit the report to the MOH and we will issue a health card which is renewed annually,” she told Samoa Observer.

She added that all employers of food handlers must not employ anyone who fails the test.

“All the food handlers are liable to a fine and all those people without health cards are not allowed to work and employ an applicant that failed.

“This is the first time the implementation has begun but the law has been passed in 2015 with the regulations in 2017 and we are going to raise awareness on all food handlers to take action - we started consultations with food handlers last year.”

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