THE HAGUE–In preparation for increased analysis and supervision of food products in St. Maarten, Raymond Peterson (57) of St. Maarten Laboratory Services (SLS) is currently taking undergoing highly specialised microbiology training in the Netherlands.
For Peterson, a born St. Maartener who studied chemistry and microbiology and is in charge of the SLS Environmental Lab, the two-month training at the Eurofins food testing laboratory in Heerenveen is not only a great opportunity to learn more, but it is also an important step in the process of maintaining and improving food quality in St. Maarten.
Peterson’s training at Eurofins, a highly acclaimed food testing facility, focuses primarily on food sampling, food testing and food safety, and involves a lot of microbiology. After Peterson has completed his training at Eurofins in December, he will return to St. Maarten to finalise the food analysis laboratory which will commence in January next year. The line of equipment needed for this exercise is mostly in place.
Currently the SLS Environmental Lab is mainly testing drinking water, bottled water, ice, seawater and the effluent of sewage water. SLS also assists Saba, St. Eustatius and Anguilla with water testing. In collaboration with the St. Maarten Ministry of Public Health, Social Affairs and Labour VSA, SLS decided to start doing food analysis on the island.
After Hurricane Irma when large quantities of food were imported, mainly as a result of the damage to many supermarkets, it became clear that more supervision was needed on food quality. This is also the case for the restaurants on the island where food is stored and prepared.
The government health department already performs checks at supermarkets and restaurants, but that is mainly to verify expiration dates of food products, while at the restaurants, the kitchens are inspected for cleanliness.
Peterson explained that the idea is to test fresh food products, cooked and uncooked, at supermarkets and restaurants. He anticipates that the increased food analysis will have a preventive, positive effect, as businesses in the food sector will do their best to make sure that what they sell is in order.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/82562-sls-is-preparing-to-extend-food-analysis