FILE PHOTO: Dominica's parliament in session
FILE PHOTO: Dominica's parliament in session

Chief Environmental Health Officer Anthony Scotland is warning the public to be "careful where you eat"; he said persons must eat from certified food handlers. Scotland's comments come after recent reports of alleged food poisoning or food borne illness affected a few parliamentarians at the last sitting of the House of Assembly.

At least three members of the opposition United Works Party (UWP) complained of feeling unwell one day after eating. One member of staff of Parliament, the messenger, was also ill and has seen a doctor who confirmed that it was a case of food poisoning.

Opposition senator Isaac Baptiste told Q95 FM: "I had dinner the Thursday evening, November 26. I did not feel sick right away or the Friday during the day. I did not attend parliament the Friday November 27. However, on Friday evening while at my hotel speaking with a friend I was not feeling well and left for my residence but before I even got a chance to open the door I almost collapsed, started to feel very, very weak," Isaac Baptiste said.

He continued: "I was helped inside and vomited for the better part of the night and had an upset stomach. Saturday 28, I was still sick and could not attend a United Workers Party dinner. Sunday 29th, I was still sick and someone brought me some medication and over time started to feel better. On Monday 30, I went to work but I was not feeling too well. I am slowly getting back to myself. I did not know what happened until the Sunday 29 when I saw some exchanges from some members of the government who were asking if any members of the opposition who took dinner and was sick. That is when I realized what had happened. I have since learnt that quite a few parliamentarians and police officers who had eaten the dinner had gotten sick," he said.

Scotland told the SUN, that his department got the news of the incident on the radio.

"We are concerned and don't want people dying because of food borne illness. Persons infected should seek medical attention and should also come to the Environmental Health and give the information so that we can investigate the problem. It's a big science of investigating because the person may have eaten different foods," Scotland said.

He also added that his department is investigating the matter.

"We need to find out how the food was prepared and handled. Anyone who has suffered from a food borne disease should report the matter to us so that we can investigate. We also do quarterly inspection of areas preparing food," he stated.

Scotland wants the public to be aware of the people who sell food to them.

"They are issued with a food handler's permit. We do a lot of work and certificating of food handlers. Parties, groups…are all of concern to us. Over the past five years, we have had four outbreaks of food borne diseases, one in Portsmouth, another Roseau…while it is not massive we are concerned. Heading into Christmas and then carnival is of concern to us and people must take note of that and be very careful where and how they eat," he said.

He also stated that new legislation will strengthen the hands of the Environmental Health Department in dealing with restaurants.

"The way the law is structured needs changing and it is coming which will give us the ability to revoke licenses granted…we have done all the work and it will be soon before Cabinet for ratification," Scotland said.

Scotland said licenses will be issued for one year.

"Consumers must open their eyes, watch where you eat and what you eat, this is very important," he said.