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Health officials say Hill Milling close to reopening

By Emmanuel Joseph

Health authorities say food manufacturing and packaging plant, Hill Milling Company Limited is expected to get the green light to reopen shortly.

The news from Acting Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Arthur Phillips came on Friday afternoon, just over three months after environmental health officials closed the Haggatt Hall, St Michael company and dumped more than $500 000 in food items because of a rat infestation.

Although he declined to estimate a timeframe for the resumption of operations, Dr Phillips said he was comfortable Hill Milling was on track to get back to business soon.

He told Barbados TODAY that the dumping, which was done in stages, is now complete and the plant has done most of what it was required to do.

An inspection by health officers will be done to verify that all the recommended actions were completed.

“There is training, which must have been conducted yesterday. That is essentially it at this point. We would have had meetings with them and it helped to clarify that we were on the same page and we have the same goals,” health official stated.

“We are comfortable that they are improving and that they are on track to be back in business soon. I don’t have a timeframe. Our end goal is to ensure they are operating in a way that is safe to them and to the public and to public health standards. So, we believe that there is not much left to be done, and they are committed to doing all that is required.”

Dr Phillips said there would have to be a final sanitising of the plant, which will be done by Hill Milling staff under the supervision of environmental health officers, “once we have signed off on everything else”.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the company Richard Ashby had complained that while waiting for the health authorities to give him the all-clear to reopen, staff had been sent on leave; his local and overseas customers were without products, which include rice, sugar, corn curls, oats, peas, beans and snacks; and the major revenue-earning portion of his business, exports, was in jeopardy.

“I sell to 4 000 shopkeepers…supermarkets, gas stations, minimarts…you know, people out in the country who sell from their windows, their back doors. But that’s not my big stuff, my big stuff is exports. So you are not only affecting small shops in Barbados but you are affecting the big shops in Guyana, Jamaica, St Lucia, Miami, New York and St Kitts,” the business owner had previously told Barbados TODAY, noting that the affected aspects of the plant included milling, packaging and producing.  [email protected]

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