Jamaica Health Tips Blog
Have you ever purchased an item in a food handling
establishment, but only to realize later that the product is expired? As Jamaicans we need to pay more attention to what we are purchasing and bringing
home to our families. In order for us to be informed consumers, we need to read
our labels more often.
A label is a tag or other descriptions matter
printed, embossed, impressed or attached to the container of a product. This helps to advertise the product and most importantly gives the consumer
information about the product, necessary to make the best buy. Against that
back, this means that it is crucial for a label to be accurate and reflects the
true nature of the product.
A label consists of two main areas;
main Panel/ principal display panel
The main panel should contain the;
of the product
- net weight of the product
The information panel should contain the;
and address of processor, manufacture, packer, importer or distributor.
date/best before date
statement (warning etc. about the product.)
information presented must be in English
In Jamaica the two entities that determine what
information is presented on a label are the manufacturer and the Bureau of
Standard Jamaica. With that said it is critical to note that no product should
be purchased without a label, most importantly bulk chemicals and detergents.
DO YOU READ THE LABEL WHEN PURCHASING ITEMS? LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW.
As the clock ticks and
we approach the New Year, many Jamaicans are elated and fired up, knowing that
they have another chance to pursue and achieve all their aspirations that did
not materialized in 2014. With that said, the team from Jamaica Health Tips
Online would like to share with you Three health tips you should make a part of
your New Year’s resolution list.
- Make physical activity a lifestyle: Many
will agree that losing weight is one of the top five items on a New Year’s
resolution list. On the contrary, the
will power to maintain it fades in the distance rather quickly and then we are
back to square one. Do not exercise to lose weight but to be healthy. According
to the American Heart Association, thirty minutes a day for three days a week
is good enough to maintain a health heart. This may simply include walking on the spot, while
watching your favorite show for three, ten minutes intervals. Note, exercise should not be a burden but rather
a desire, so do what you like.
- Maintain healthy relationships/friendships: It
has been said that if you should live to see age seventy, approximately sixty
years of your life will be spent sleeping and working (24 years and 35 year
respectively). Hence, have you ever wonder how you are living your life? While
you cannot control the actions of others, you can control yours. Try to be
honest, generous and loving not just with family members, your partner and
friends but each person you come in contact with. If a problem arises in the
relationship, focus on the solution and not the problem. In contrast, there are some relationships
that maybe considered toxic, unhealthy and harmful to your emotional well-being.
If after trying all possible means to make ends meet and you still have not
been able to make it work. You may need to let it go, but always be open and
quick to forgive when the person is ready.
- Maintain a clean and safe
you know that pollution is one of the biggest killers, affecting over 100
million persons worldwide? With all the new and emerging disease and other
implications affecting our generation today, it’s imperative that we try to
keep our surrounding clean and safe. The Atmosphere and the environment are
there to protect us, so if we neglect it, then in time to come we will face
dire implication. So
as you ring in the New Year, reflect on these things. We wish you a Happy and
Healthy New Year. ...
Do you think it’s important to make New Year’s resolution?
With the recent chaos on the media about the deadly
Ebola virus, many Jamaicans seemingly are concerned with the lack of
information and surveillance being conducted by the public health officials in
our island. For this reason the Jamaica Health Tips Online team has seen the
need to provide information to our fellow Jamaicans and the world that will
help you better understand this disease.
outlined on the CDC website is a rare and deadly disease, it is known to affect
humans and non-human primates for example; Monkey, Gorillas and Chimpanzees.
There are presently five identified strains of the Ebola virus; Zaire, Sudan, Cote d’lvoire, Bundibugyo
and the Reston (in non-human primates
but not in humans).
The first case of Ebola occurs in Southern Sudan in
1976 in a cotton factory. As reported by Dr Don Francis in a presentation at
the University of Berkeley, California, he believes that the cotton was contaminated
by urine of fruit bats in the area. As of August 8, 2014 it has been reported by
several sources that there are over 3000 confirm cases with over 1000 deaths in
the West Africa area.
- Human to human varies from; direct
contact through broken skin for example saliva,
urine, vomit, blood and semen of an infected person) or through unprotected mucous
membranes such as; eyes nose or mouth. Objects (like needles or syringe) used
by infected person.
- Butchering of animals infected with the Ebola
The primary host is believed to be the fruit bats
which infect other animals and by extension humans through butchering and the
consumption of animals for food (bush meat).
at high risk
- Health care providers e.g. nurses and
- Family and friends who are caring for
- Funeral home workers.
Fever, headache, chest pain, diarrhoea, vomiting,
dry painful throat, rash, bleeding from the ear,eyes, nose and mouth, malanea (black tarry faeces)
and desquamation (skin peeling). The symptoms may appear within 2-21 days after
exposure, but on average 8-10 days.
Practice careful hygiene, avoid funeral or burial
rituals that require handling of infected bodies, avoid contacts with bats, and
infected animals and humans, education of the public and proper training of
health care providers, isolation of infected persons, constant re-hydration of patient(s)
maintenance of oxygen and blood pressure status in patient(s) and an active
quarantine and surveillance system.
There is no known vaccine or medicine to treat the
Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever. However, several patients have recovered from their
illness by just treating any opportunistic illness and maintaining patient(s) electrolytes,
oxygen and blood pressure level.
Do you think Jamaican public health officials are prepared for the
Most Jamaicans don’t know that a person doesn't actually "get" AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). People sometimes get infected with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), and later they might develop AIDS. You can get infected with HIV from anyone who's infected, even if they don't look very sick and even if they haven't been tested and confirmed HIV-positive The semen, blood, vaginal fluid, and breast milk of people infected with HIV has enough of the virus in it to infect others. Most times the HIV virus is transmitted by:
· Having sexual intercourse with someone who is infected;
· Being born infected because the mother is infected, or drinking the breast milk of a woman who is infected.
· Sharing a needle with someone who's infected;
Things Jamaican’s should keep in mind
Your risk of getting HIV or passing it to someone else depends on many factors. Do you know what they are? Here are a few health tips.
1. Use a condom
2. Abstaining from sex
3. Talking about HIV with your partner
4. Getting tested
It’s simple as ABC (A: Abstain B: Be faithful C: Use A Condom
Chikungunya is a viral disease that causes fever and
severe joint pains. It is spread to human by bite of an infected mosquito. The aedes aegypti mosquitoes spread or pass
on this virus. This type of mosquito also spreads the dengue virus.
The most common symptoms are fever and severe joint
pains, often in the hands, wrist and ankles. Prolong effects includes Arthritis
and disabling joints pains. In some cases, joints pains can last for several
months and even years. Other symptoms include headache, backache, muscles pain,
nausea, fatigue and rash.
There are no medicines to specifically treat
chikungunya or vaccine; however pain killers can be taken to reduce the
symptoms. It is paramount to note that
only paracetamol pain killersshould
be taken. Other pain killers such as Aspirin,
Ibuprofen and other anti-flammmatory drugs are not recommended as they may
increase risk of bleeding.
Mosquitoes which spread Chikunyunga bites during the
light coloured clothing and cover your body as much as possible.
mosquito repellents containing DEET on exposed skin.
mosquito coils and electric vaporization maths both in the day and night.
(mesh) your windows and doors.
The aedes mosquito
breeds and lives in standing water in and around the home hence do your part to
prevent them from breeding.
all open containers such as your drums, tanks, barrels, buckets.
rid of all old tyres, tins bottles, plastic containers, coconut shells and
anything in which rain water settles.
trash, punch holes in tins before placing them in garbage.
house plants in damp soil and avoid over watering plants.
and wash pets water containers as twice weekly.
over grown vegetation on your premises as frequently as possible.
see your doctor immediately if you think you or a family member might have
Source: MOH brochure
Do you have measures in place to protect yourself and your family from Chikungunya?
As defined in the Collins English Dictionary, 1819 a fruit
juice is a beverage made from liquid squeezed from a fruit or fruits. With that
said, can we legally call juice from concentrate 100% fruit juice? This seems
to be the new way of advertising fruit juices blended with other ingredients,
such as high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners, additives and coloring.
Many may argue that fruit juice made from concentrate is juice adding back the
water that was removed in the evaporation process. Yes, but evaporation which
is heating the juice to high temperature will destroy certain nutrients and
enzymes in the natural fruit. In addition, juice from concentrate would also
have most of its water removed through filtration and extraction. Extraction
involves adding some chemicals to get a more condensed product.
the Dictionary of Food Science and Technology, Juice from concentrate is also
pasteurized as part of the process to extend its shelf life. As a general rule,
the more processing a food undergoes, the more potential there is for nutrient
loss. On the contrary, according to the Complete Book of Food count, the differences
are not great. One cup of 100% orange juice from concentrate, for example
contains 100 milligram and 40 micro-gram of beta-carotene, compare to 125
milligram of vitamin c and 80 micro-gram of beta-carotene in fresh squeezed
The writer will not dismiss the fact that 100% juice from
concentrate with no sugar added is healthier than juice made from concentrate
with sugar added, however it’s in my opinion that juice from concentrate should
not be advertise as 100% natural fruit juice. As consumers we need to take charge in the market place,
read labels since it is the only thing that will provide us with information
needed to guide us in making a wise and informed choice. Please share your views and knowledge on this
Do you drink a lot of juices that are made from concentrate?
Fish, when freshly caught, is relatively
wholesome. The quality of the fish
starts to deteriorate as soon as it is taken from the water. The principal cause of fish condemnation is
decay. Factors influencing the rapid
spoilage of fish are:
- Microbial – several species of
microbes are always present in the surface slime and intestinal tract of
the healthy fish. As long as the
fish remains alive, these are held in check and the flesh of the healthy
fish remains sterile. However, as
soon as the fish dies, these reproduce rapidly and attack all the
constituents of the tissues. Since these
organisms live on the cold-blooded vertebrate at low ocean temperatures,
they are able to resist ordinary refrigeration temperatures. If microbial decomposition must be
retarded, fish, upon being caught, should be immediately stored at
temperatures below 0ºC.
- Physiological – due to the fight
and consequent exertion when caught, glycogen in the muscles is depleted
or nearly so. There is therefore
little glycogen to convert into lactic acid in slowing bacterial growth in
muscles is limited.
- Chemical – besides bacteria,
enzymes act upon certain constituents of the fish, breaking it down into
simpler substances. This is called
self-digestion or autolysis. The
growth and activities of certain bacteria on the surface of the fish
produces undesirable chemical substances called trimethylamine which is
responsible for the fishy odor of spoilt fish. This chemical then diffuses into the
flesh of the fish causing spoilage.
Characteristics of Good Wet Fish
Characteristics of Stale Wet Fish
- Clear, bright, slightly protruding eyes with black pupils.
- Gills are bright red in color, odorless and usually closed.
- Moderate amount of natural slime covering fish, skin shiny and
color unfaded, scales are strongly adherent, creamy white or transparent
- Flesh is firm to the touch, solid, opaque, elastic and strongly
attached to backbone.
- Abdomen clean and free from offensive odor. Belly walls are firm with no
- Blood along the backbone in the visceral cavity is bright red.
- Pleasant odor (briny)
- Body stiff and tail rigid.
- The carcass will sink in water.
- Dull, sunken grey eyes which will disappear in extremely rotten
- Gills are of very pale pink or dark brown color, slimy and have
- Natural slime is yellowish and has a bad odor, dull appearance,
many missing scales as they are easily detached from the skin.
- Flesh is soft and limp, transparent and pits easily on pressure
and can be easily loosened from backbone.
- Abdomen discolored with offensive odor, belly wall soft and
- Blood along backbone is dark to black in color, with foul odor.
- Strong rank odor, progressing into a putrid, rotten fish odor.
- Body limp and pliable.
- The carcass will float in water.
of Fresh Fish
1. Minimum handling – the less handling
fish receives, the longer it will remain wholesome and the less likelihood of it
causing fish poisoning.
2. Fresh fish should be buried in ice
that is relatively finely ground or shaven.
3. It is poor practice to allow fish
fillet, sliced fish or fish with flesh exposed to come in direct contact with
water or ice as this will spoil the flavour and appearance and result in a
soggy unpalatable product.
4. Refrigeration is necessary at all
times to keep down bacterial action and autolysis.
Smoked Fish (Herring)
1. Flesh should be firm, dry and free
2. Flesh should have fresh, clean,
1. Flesh is sweaty, soft and slimy.
2. Flesh is moldy and has bad odor.
1. Flesh should be firm, clear in colour, fairly dry on
surface, neatly trimmed.
2. Always stored in dry cool place.
3. Free of insect pests and dirt. Bad Fish
- Flesh is discolored, (pink fungus growth).
- Wet and moist saltfish not properly stored.
- May be infested with Lasioderma or other pests.
1. Fish should be covered with clean liquor.
2.Odor should be pleasant, pickle odor.
3. Fish should be firm and free from bloodstained and broken
- Fish only partially covered or covered with muddy liquor.
- Foul or rancid odor
- Fish is bloodstained, discolored and broken into pieces.
The outside should be clean and
free from dirt, with shells tightly closed.
When a handful is rubbed
together, they will sound like pebbles.
They will sink in water and has
a pleasant odor.
If the pH of the liquor is
tested, it will be between 6 and 7.
The liquor appears milky
especially during the spawning season (spring).
Shell not closed.
When shaken, does not have a
pebble like sound.
Unpleasant odor, excessive dirt
PH of the liquor more acidic
and has an opaque appearance.
has a black or dark ring in the
inside of the shell
Floats in water.
Oysters removed from shell should be stored
in sterile containers and if being kept for over 4 days, should be stored at
30ºF or below.
Source: Marcia Reid
(lecturer at University of Technology, Jamaica. Lecture notes.)
Are you buying safe fish? leave a comment below.
Well it’s just 3 days away before Christmas and Jamaicans are preparing for wonderful large cooked meals. Most Jamaicans do not realize that the food they consume during Christmas is usually high in fat and calories, but taking a closer look has revealed that there can be some hidden health benefits too.
Very few Jamaicans eat turkey as their main dish during Christmas, but some studies show that Turkey contains high levels of protein but without the large quantities of saturated fat found in some red meat, it also has lower cholesterol levels than pork, chicken or beef.
It has been said that some Jamaican vegetables like cabbage, may help reduce the risk of some cancers, as they contain high levels of antioxidants. And Christmas in Jamaica is not complete without dark chocolate, which is a good source of magnesium and contains a variety of bio-active compounds believed to lead to good cardiovascular health and prevent joint problems.
However chocolate is a high-calorie food and should be eaten in small moderation. leave a comment below.
What healthy foods are you planning to eat this Christmas?
leave a comment below.
are mosquitoes attracted to some people than other?
Dengue fever is an infection caused by a virus
called Dengue virus. There are four
different type of this virus, Dengue type 1, 2, 3 and 4. A person can only be infected with each type
once in their life. The virus is spread when a female Aedes mosquito bites an infected person and then bites other
The female mosquito bites only to obtain blood from
its source to provide iron and other nutrients needed for the development and
maturation of its eggs. The belief is true;
mosquitoes do prefer to snack on some people than others.
There are three distinct reasons,
1· Carbon dioxide - producing more carbon
dioxide and lactic acid will cause a mosquito to be more attracted to you. So the reason we always hear a mosquito
buzzing at our ear is because as we breathe out the carbon dioxide from our
nostril, and they follow that track at the angel of the ear. With that said, a
pregnant woman is more attracted to a mosquito since she will emit more CO2.
2· Body temperature – producing greater
body heat will attract mosquitoes, especially if you have a chemical blood type
marker. So persons with type O blood
type are 24% more attractive to a mosquito.
3· Sweating – sweating excessively means
that your body temperature is very high and this will attract a mosquito to
you. Children are always victims since they are always busy playing and running
about. Additional persons who sweat easily and very physical and active
When infected with a dengue virus you may develop
Dengue Fever or Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (severe
form of Dengue which often causes death)
Here are some signs and symptoms,
onset of high fever and severe headache.
behind the eye, muscle, bone or joint pain.
rash, vomiting or feeling to vomit.
N: B for Dengue
Haemorragic Fever, in severe cases patients may go into a shock called Dengue
Shock Syndrome. In additional they may experience fainting, difficulty
breathing, bleeding from nose, mouth or gum, stomach pain and skin bruising.
To prevent mosquitoes from breeding is to prevent
them from having access to water.
· Keep all water holding or storage
· Brush your premises regularly, since
mosquitoes can breed in water on the grass leaves.
· Clean all drains and trenches to allow
water to flow easily.
· Pour cooking oil and other oil in areas
where water settles.
· Package, store and dispose of water
properly. E.g. punch holes in tins.
In case you feel you have dengue visit your doctor
immediately, rest and drink a lot of fluids. Use Paracetamol pain killers only; do not use pain killers such as Aspirin or medications that have Aspirin in them, since they may
increase your risk of bleeding.
Do you have measures in place to protect yourself and your family from Dengue Fever?
Eggs are one of the most
economical and nutritious food known to man. It is important to however, not to
mismanage eggs during the time of production through to consumption. This is because mismanagement may compromise
the safety and the quality of the egg and consequently facilitates the growth
of microorganisms which can have deleterious effect on the health of the
Eggs have been classified
by many including the Food and Drug administration as being a potentially
hazardous food. This is because it has being implicated in numerous foodborne
disease outbreaks such as Salmonellosis. (FDA, 2001) According to the Ministry of Agriculture and
Fisheries, (2011), it is estimated that the average yearly production
of eggs in Jamaica is at 120,977,659. Consequently there are approximately
16,200 unmonitored small egg farms contributing to the yearly production of
eggs in the island, (Williams, 2004). This is of major public health concern because
some eggs which you consume could be contaminated with deadly microorganisms
that may result in loss of life.
Most commercially produced eggs reach
supermarkets within a few days of leaving the egg farm. If the market and the
buyer handle them properly, they will still be fresh when they reach the
table. As an egg ages, the egg white
becomes thinner and the yolk becomes flatter.
also called meat spots, occasionally found on an egg yolk. Contrary to popular
opinion, these tiny spots do not indicate a fertilized egg. Rather, they are
caused by the rupture of a blood vessel on the yolk surface during formation of
the egg or by a similar accident in the wall of the oviduct. Less than 1% of
all eggs produced have blood spots. As an egg ages, the yolk takes up water
from the albumen to dilute the blood spot so, in actuality, a blood spot
indicates that the egg is fresh. Both chemically and nutritionally, these eggs
are fit to eat. The spot can be removed with the tip of a knife, if you wish.
Table 1 : Showing the quality of egg from very fresh (left) to stale (right).
How are eggs handled safely?
Proper refrigeration, cooking, and handling should prevent most egg-safety
problems. Persons can enjoy eggs and dishes containing eggs if these safe
handling guidelines are followed:
utensils, equipment, and work areas with hot, soapy water before and after
contact with eggs
keep eggs out of the refrigerator more than 2 hours.
eggs and other ingredients, combined according to recipe directions, should be
cooked immediately or refrigerated and cooked within 24 hours.
cook eggs until both the white and yolk are firm.
and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to a safe minimum internal
temperature of 160 °F. use a food thermometer to be sure.
cooked eggs and dishes containing eggs immediately after cooking, or place in
shallow containers for quick cooling and refrigerate at once for later use. Use
within 3 to 4 days.
Source : Marcia Reid (lecturer) @ University of Technology, Jamaica.