Curaçao Restaurant Association/Koninklijke Horeca Nederland Curaçao (CRA/KHN-Cur) recently met with various key stakeholders (see Thursday paper), including the country’s Ministry of Economic Development MEO, Ministry of Health, Environment and Nature GMN, Fire Department and Chinese Business Association (CBA). They did so days after the MEO-led multidisciplinary inspection team closed 12 catering establishments mostly because their kitchens lacked proper hygiene.
With a total of 16 checked, this was obviously reason for widespread concern among consumers. In addition, offenders shut down pending steps to rectify the situation were specifically mentioned.
The latter clearly hurt those involved, but it would not be fair to place the entire sector in a negative light due to the irresponsibility shown by some. The branch organisation acknowledged the significance of such controls for food and beverage outlets, but also believes their execution can be improved to enforce rules but respect the interests of all parties concerned.
As both the Dutch and French sides of the island celebrate culinary festivals this month, the importance of maintaining strict health guidelines and proper hygienic practices cannot be overemphasised. Particularly for a destination renowned in this regard, it’s not just about taste and presentation but also about food safety and quality.
Concerning multidisciplinary inspections, these have prompted criticism in St. Maarten too in the past, especially from the local hospitality industry. They mainly complained that when executed at the busiest times like during dinner, it scares away clients including international visitors.
The counterargument back then was that controls while nothing much is going on make little sense, because certain potential violations could be less evident. In other words, compliance must be ensured at full capacity.