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News : Bahamas Information Services Updates Last Updated: Jan 22, 2020 - 9:46:27 AM

New Sanitary Measure for Fruits and Vegetables originating in North Andros
By Bahamas Agricultural Health and Food Safety Authority (BAHFSA)
Jan 21, 2020 - 9:42:23 PM

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In December 2019 BAHFSA advised the Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources of an incident of groundwater contamination on a single farm in North Andros. The test, commissioned by a private citizen, confirmed the presence of

E. coli and faecal streptococcus.  The Minister directed that an immediate investigation into the extent of the contamination in the North Andros groundwater system be initiated.

The public water supply is unaffected and is entirely safe for domestic use.

The Ministry of Agriculture informed key Ministries and Departments including Ministry of the Environment and Housing  (DEHS), Ministry of Transport and Local Government (Department of Local Government), Ministry of Health, Ministry of Public Works, Ministry of Agriculture and Marine Resources, The Royal Bahamas Police Force, Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs.

The investigation, which occurred January 13th and 14th, revealed the presence of E. coli in the groundwater. These tests were inconclusive relative to faecal streptococcus. In this regard additional tests have been ordered and are expected to be completed as early as Friday 24th January 2020. Further tests are being conducted to confirm if any other harmful bacteria are present in the groundwater. 

Subsequent to this BAHFSA has recommended the following measures for North Andros:

  1.     All consumers using well water for potable purposes are advised to treat their wells with chlorine tablets, boiling, or a UV filtration system.  
  2.     Residents are advised that if they find that the surface of a fruit or vegetable is compromised that it should be thoroughly cooked or else discarded.
  3.     ALL produce will be required to go through an industry standard sanitary washing procedure prior to entering the market for distribution.
  4.     ALL fruit and vegetables originating in North Andros undergo standardized treatment at the Department of Agriculture or BAMSI’s packing house before shipments are approved. 
The Bahamas Agricultural Health and Food Safety Authority (BAHFSA) is responsible for the maintenance of Animal Health, Plant Health and Food Safety throughout the Bahamas. BAHFSA will be introducing new groundwater testing and produce sanitation procedures in North Andros and thereafter apply it to other islands in the event that there is any contamination. 

BAHFSA will update the public as further information becomes available.

Consumers who have questions or concerns can contact BAHFSA at: bahfsa@bahamas.gov.bs

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