The celebrations will be held over the next four weeks on Rarotonga, and with the influx of visitors, MoH is keen to avoid outbreaks of food poisoning.
Officials say they will be very particular with inspecting and monitoring of the preparation, handling and selling of food at stalls at the Punanga Nui, night markets, trade days, hostels and schools that will accommodate tere parties.
Director of Community Services, Neti Herman says Public Health Services will monitor the situation and make sure all shops and stalls selling food to the public have a valid food license.
“It is an obligation for all food handlers or food stall owners and managers to ensure that good hygiene practices are carried out at all times when preparing and selling food to the general public,” Herman says.
To obtain a food licence, all those involved in the handling, preparation, transportation and selling of food are required to provide a medical clearance from a doctor, and the medical report must be brought in to the Public Health office.
As part of the application process, individuals will also be provided with the necessary information required to ensure that food hygiene and safety are maintained before a licence can be issued or renewed.
As part of the new National Service fee schedule, new fees also apply to the type of licence required.
Fees range from $20 for seasonal food establishments to $120 for manufacturing and packaging operations.
In addition to the fees, each food stall vendor must display a valid food licence, which must be visible to health inspectors when they travel around inspecting food stalls at Punanga Nui, night markets, trade days or any fundraising activities.
According to the Ministry of Health, failure to display a valid licence will result in stalls being closed.
“We therefore encourage all those wanting to sell food during this festive period to take particular notice of these important messages,” a ministry spokesman said.
But most importantly, the ministry wants everyone to enjoy the celebrations and not be hindered by the occurrence and spread of food poisoning. Health would also like to advise anyone who experiences food poisoning symptoms, such as upset stomach, abdominal pain or cramps, vomiting and diarrhea, to please visit the doctor, who in turn will advise Public Health staff to investigate the source of infection.
For further information please contact the Public Health Office on 29 110.