Tue, 06/07/2016 - 12:00am
Barbados continues to uphold its reputation of culinary hub in the Caribbean and the world. The industry has received a welcome boost by the participation of Barbadian chefs in a variety of competitions, for which Team Barbados has brought home gold on numerous occasions. Accompanying culinary skill is an admirable dedication by the relevant authorities to maintain the standard of food preparation at the highest levels. We believe that focus should continue and be monitored – and tightened where needed – to ensure all comply with the requisite laws.
From tasty home-made treats to the offerings of the village shop, Barbadians have always been blessed with talented cooks and chefs. This has expanded to a niche tourism product with the hosting of such events as the Food & Wine and Rum Festival, mixology competitions and Taste of the Caribbean contests, with a team currently in Miami to take part in the latter event. The more entrepreneurial and business-minded Barbadians have ventured into the food industry at varying levels. It is admirable that these persons use their God-given talents to start a career or earn extra money on the side, while at the same time ensuring the island’s rich cultural culinary heritage is kept alive.
We are of the view that the excellence comes in all packages, and in the Information Age savvy social media patrons are often eager to share their experiences, both negative and positive. This virtual interaction often results in a business developing a good reputation based on feedback. In addition to the expected restaurants, several local small food businesses enjoy rave reviews on platforms such as TripAdvisor, blogs or online articles. It is to the advantage of all food handlers and sellers that they build their brand not only for excellent fare and service but also of exceptional food safety standards because people notice and often share their opinions with others. This must be observed across the board, whether a casual weekend vendor or an established business, because the overall result to Barbados’ brand from a health and economic standpoint could be consequential.
This is why training in essential hygiene and food preparation matters is so important. Government has always ensured the country’s health standards are kept at a high level, with inspectors required to scrutinise restaurants and social events, while also equipping food handlers with the necessary knowledge and certification. According to Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Cheryl Alleyne, Government takes the issue of food borne illnesses quite seriously, especially since the country depends heavily on tourism. And given that it takes just one bad experience to have an outbreak of a food borne illness, which can hinder socio-economic development and put a strain on already burdened health services, then the state has to be very vigilant indeed.
The culinary market has given Barbados another avenue through which to diversify its tourism product and ensure a variety of choice for locals. It is therefore critical to ensure the high quality of food production, handling and serving so our brand continues to grow, and the good health of the nation maintained.