A Food Blitz Programme, which forms part of the Mayoral 100 Days Programme, was rolled out on Wednesday, 17 October 2018, at food outlets in KwaZakhele to increase awareness of the importance of food safety. The awareness programme was led by Member of the Mayoral Committee for Public Health, Cllr Yolisa Pali, accompanied the NMBM Environmental Health Team and Security Officers.
Cllr Pali said that the point of the exercise was to ensure compliance with food safety regulations, and promote awareness and education, which is a vital part of the responsibilities of the Municipality’s environmental health practitioners.
“When the programme started it mainly focused on small to medium retailers, sphaza shops and other local owned shops. As part of the Mayoral 100 Days we have taken a decision to focus on the big retailers like Shoprite, Pick n Pay, Spar, Boxer and similar chain stores. Because of their size people can assume that they comply with regulations, but what we saw at Shoprite in Njoli is a different story. I am disappointed at them, with all the money to do things right, but they neglect the basic compliance issues like, sanitising equipment, keeping food at acceptable temperatures,” said Cllr Pali.
Pali said the management of the shop was instructed to look at the areas that were noted by the Environmental Health practitioners.
Today’s programme focused on Kwazakhele where shops like Shoprite, Boxer and Spar where inspected.
According to Heidi Marais, NMBM Environmental Practitioner, food prepared in bulk carries a higher risk of bacterial contamination; hence the need for extra vigilance.
The establishments visited during the Blitz and the results of the inspections were as follows:
- Three KwaZakhele supermarkets (a condemnation notice was issued at each): At the first, numerous compliance issues were observed, i.e. some food items in the deli were not covered.
- The oven extraction fans were clogged up; as a result, the fumes were not being extracted properly, posing a high risk of food poisoning.
- Pest infestation was another challenge (recommendations included proper pest control, as well as cleanliness and regular bin clearing). At the second supermarket, team members were greeted by a fresh, clean scent and welcoming staff.
- Few irregularities were found in food hygiene and display (the deli was clean, the food was fresh and the food warmers and freezers were at the correct temperature settings). However, a few foodstuffs were found to be past their sell-by date, and some dented tins were found.
- In addition, the waste section had not been cleared for a while. While the supermarket had been proactive, given the severe drought conditions in the region, to purchase three Jojo water storage tanks, these had been filled with tap water.
- The risk was pointed out to the store management that tap water, when stored for a period, would become stale and unusable. A third KwaZakhele supermarket visited, also saw a condemnation notice issued.
- Seventeen hawkers’ displays in Daku and Njoli Roads were inspected: Four of these hawkers were instructed to cease operation with immediate effect, as they did not possess a hawker’s license. They were issued with notices instructing them to apply for a hawker’s license.
- Two spaza shops were closed down completely for non-compliance.
Cllr Pali expressed her concern about the high number of health hazards found in some of the food shops, adding that some shops seemed to be more interested in profit making than in safeguarding and protecting the health of communities. She reiterated the Municipality’s commitment to promote food safety and monitor the food hygiene standards delivered to local communities. The team that worked in Kwazakhele today will return within seven days to check on progress on the areas that were highlighted.
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