News Releases

Our New Part to Play During World Food Safety Day 2020

For Release Upon Receipt - June 8, 2020

St. Augustine

The reality of the scarcity of the world’s resources has become magnified during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Access to safe food or food with low levels of hazards that could lead to food-borne illnesses is critical to our survival. The Department of Food Production in the Faculty of Food and Agriculture at The UWI St. Augustine Campus joins in the international community in commemorating the second observance of World Food Safety Day this Sunday 7, June 2020. The goal is to encourage everyone to live out this year’s theme, “Food Safety, Everyone’s Business”.

All consumers of food have a part to play in keeping food supply chains healthy. World Food Safety Day stresses that whether you grow, process, transport, store, distribute, sell, prepare, serve or consumer food; you have a role to play in keeping food safe. Safe hygiene practices are especially important to stop the spread of COVID-19, but what measures should consumers take to protect their food?

Professor Neela Badrie and Dr Marsha Singh, Coordinators of the Department of Food Production’s Postgraduate Diploma/MSc Agri-Food Safety and Quality Assurance programme dispel misconceptions and provide helpful tips about food safety and COVID-19:

All consumers have a right to safe, healthy and nutritious food. As of now, there is no evidence of COVID-19 transmission through food. Though, the COVID-19 virus can survive on objects and surfaces, it is not known as to how long it can survive on food and what amount of contamination would make a person sick. However, a recent article published in the New England Journal of Medicine 2020 evaluated the survival of the COVID-19 virus on different surfaces. It was reported that the virus can remain viable for up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, up to four hours on copper and up to 24 hours on cardboard. However, this research was conducted under laboratory conditions (controlled relative humidity and temperature) and should be interpreted with caution in the real-life environment.

Although some consumers may perceive that there is a risk of COVID19 infection resulting from open food displays, there is currently no scientific evidence to suggest that food is associated with transmission of the COVID-19 virus. However, it is important to maintain good hygiene practices around open food displays, such as salad bars.

Hand-washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of many diseases, including COVID-19. It should be done after shopping, before handling and during preparation of foods, before eating and after using the bathroom.  Hands should be washed with soap and water for 20 seconds for general food safety. An alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol could be used if soap and water are not available. All equipment and surfaces used for food preparation should be washed and sanitised. For good respiratory hygiene, the mouth and nose should be covered when coughing or sneezing.


Notes to Editor

•  For more information about World Food Safety Day, please visit the UN’s website:

•  For more information about the Department of Food Production’s Postgraduate Diploma/MSc Agri-Food Safety and Quality Assurance programme in the Faculty of Food and Agriculture, please visit Applications are open for the 2020/2021 academic year. The deadline for submission is July 10, 2020.




About The UWI

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, The UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in BarbadosJamaicaTrinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. The UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Website:


(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)