By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As Carnival approaches the city is bracing for the influx of tourists and the hundreds of blocos that will overrun the streets with celebration. To help increase public safety, authorities have launched a sanitary inspection and training program.
Rio’s bars, restaurants and hotels located in the areas where the Carnival blocos (street parties) are concentrated will be inspected starting yesterday (February 3rd) by the municipal Vigilância Sanitária (Sanitary Surveillance). The inspection seeks to curb the sale of food harmful to the health of revelers.
Last year, according to government news sources, four establishments were banned, 41 fines were imposed and ten kilos of food was thrown away. In 2015 there were four ban, 45 fines and over 480 kilos of food thrown away.
Also clubs and event spaces that are hosting Carnival events will be reviewed for health concerns. Authorities plan to visit establishments and perform educational inspections, in which the Vigilância Sanitária technicians will advise owners and employees to keep the place and food handling within the sanitary and hygienic standards required.
The public may report the sale of inappropriate products by the Vigilância Sanitária service center, by dialing the number 1746. All requests will be sent to the agency’s technicians, who will go to the reported sites to evaluate the hygienic conditions and, if necessary, apply the penalties provided by law.
Expatriate in Rio, Zion Fadlon, who also is a co-owner of the Discovery Suites Rio and Explorer Bar in Santa Teresa shares some frank health tips for anyone planning to attend the Carnival blocos, “Because of the heat, I would suggest to avoid any raw cheese and meat products from street venders.”
For those planning to drink alcohol, he adds a local veteran’s tip, “When buying Caipirinhas on the street, notice if the ice used is in cubes or crushed. Crushed ice is not filtered, hence, not safe,… [and] don’t drink tequila from street venders. It’s usually a fake brand.”
On January 26th the official list of Rio’s Carnival blocos and their street parade schedules was released by the city’s tourism body, Riotur. The list contains a total of 451 blocos, with 578 parades due to take place across the city.