Market vendors get health cards

All food stall owners at the Savalalo market have been issued with health cards, says the market management and they will now to small shops enforce compliance of the new health and sanitation policy.

The food stall section of the market was closed prior to the declaration of the state of emergency (S.O.E.) in March, and operators were forced by the market landlord Samoa Land Corporation (S.L.C.) to undergo health checks before they are issued with cards certified by the Ministry of Health (M.O.H.) inspection team.

The S.L.C. Team Leader charged with oversight over the operations of market vendors, Alo Neti Tupa'i, confirmed when contacted by the Samoa Observer that all food stall owners and their employees have been issued with health cards, uniforms, hair nets and gloves as part of reforms to improve hygiene and sanitation.

They will now look at the operations of small shops in the market, especially those that sell sandwiches, to ensure they undergo the same health audit.

"I have also advised the small shops in the market to get a health card since they are handling food, so it is a must for them to have it," Mr Tupa'i said.

Food stall owners at Savalalo have criticised the health audit and its subsequent introduction of health cards, saying they were singled out by the S.L.C. and the M.O.H. inspection team.

A food vendor, who did not want to be identified, questioned the rationale of issuing health cards when other food sellers such as restaurants are not subject to similar scrutiny.

"I don't actually understand why the M.O.H. is only targeting us because they always come here and inspect our stalls. But if we go to other restaurants who are making food they don't have any health cards on them. So what really is the law here?”

The Samoa Observer was also able to confirm that not all food stalls outside the Savalalo market are subject to similar scrutiny, as only one family had their health cards on them while the other sellers didn’t.

"We have been issued our health cards so we are okay to operate since we have our health cards," said a seller, who did not want to be identified.

Food sellers outside of the Savalalo market perimeter are not subject to the S.L.C.-imposed health and sanitation rules, according to Mr Tupa'i, who said their activities came under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

When contacted for comment, a M.N.R.E. spokesperson said they had already stopped vendors selling next to the bus station and any sales outside the perimeter of the Savalalo market is in breach of the S.O.E. orders.

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