Monday, April 15, 2024

TONY BEST: Barbados gets top marks for food safety

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ARE POULTRY AND MEAT PRODUCTS from Barbados safe to consume?

That’s the question Dr Ronald Baynes is often asked when people find out where he is from and his area of expertise.

His answer is simply “yes”.

The 54-year-old toxicologist, doctor of veterinary medicine and professor of pharmacology at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, said: “Poultry and meats products in Barbados are safe. As a matter of fact, I feel more comfortable eating a chicken wing in Barbados than in some parts of the United States.”

The research scientist, who is also director of the University’s Chartered Centre for Chemical Toxicology Research and Pharmacokinetics, adds that poultry in Barbados is clean, especially the local products from the big farmers.

The reason he can vouch for the food safety is because Barbados adheres to strict monitoring standards when it comes to meat, poultry and fish consumption.

“Barbadians are very sensitive to anything that hints of a product being inferior. Pig and poultry farmers pay a lot of attention to what they place on the market.

And Barbados is concerned about what it imports,” he said.

The other reason he is sure is because of the importance of tourism to Barbados.

“Barbados wouldn’t want any adverse chemical or other negative reaction from the consumption of water, milk and other food-products by visitors so it pays considerable attention to this matter,” he said. “Food safety is very important in Barbados.”

Baynes, the son of Ronald “Bertie” Baynes, a Caribbean agronomist for more than half a century, stays on top of his academic and scientific game in food safety, research, and in the body’s interaction with drugs used in animals for food consumption.

In addition, he has written at least one book; authored 24 chapters in  textbooks; prepared more than 100 scholarly scientific peer-review articles, technical papers and reports published by major journals in the United States; and is routinely invited to present papers at scientific conferences on pharmacology, toxicology and related issues.

Not bad for a scientist from Antigua, his birthplace, and Barbados where he grew up in Sturges in St Thomas from the time he was five years old.

The graduate of Coleridge & Parry School; the Barbados Community College and the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies also taught at Ellerslie School before heading to the United States to further his studies.

“Barbados has nurtured me and gave me a sound educational foundation,” he said.

Baynes, who holds a bachelor’s degree in science from the UWI, entered Tuskegee University in Alabama in 1986, graduating four years later with a doctorate in veterinary medicine.

By then, his interest in pharmacology was so strong that he entered the University of Georgia in Athens, completing work for a master’s degree in 1992. Once he had reached that level of study, the obvious next step was a PhD in pharmacology, which he received in 1997 from the University of North Carolina in Raleigh.

And, as they say, the rest is history.

Today, Baynes holds several patents related to his research and trains veterinary graduate students in his laboratory at the State University.

“It has been quite rewarding and I must say thanks to quite a lot of people in and out Barbados for where I have reached, especially my father and the rest of the family,” he said.

Tony Best is the Nation’s North American correspondent.

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