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Metro targets illegal and unhygienic food outlets in effort to prevent disease outbreaks

By Afikile Lugunya - Jun 27, 2018
Metro targets illegal and unhygienic food outlets in effort to prevent disease outbreaks

The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality says that the recent outbreak of Listeriosis in the country, which also affected the Nelson Mandela Bay area, highlighted the need to monitor local food outlets and ensuring the safe preparation, storage and handling of food products that are meant for public consumption.

In a pro-active approach, the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality's Environmental Health office, led by Mayoral Committee Member for Public Health, Councillor Lance Grootboom, identified a number of areas that pose a risk or the possibility of Listeriosis and other food related outbreaks.

On Wednesday, Grootboom led the Metro's public health inspectors on an blitz in Korsten, Port Elizabeth.

Dr Patrick Nodwele, the Director of Public Health in Nelson Mandela Bay, said that this was the first operation to be conducted in the Bay while the operation is planned to cover the whole Nelson Mandela Bay area.

The ultimate goal is to ensure that operators, who prepare and serve food within the Nelson Mandela Bay, do that as per Environmental Health rules and regulations in order to stop food-related disease outbreaks in the Bay. 

"We did a risk assessment in the Metro that we needed to focus on after the Listeriosis outbreak," Dr Nodwele said. 

"We are checking all the food operations, if a person is going to trade in the food industry, they need authorisation by the department and if premises don't have that authorisation, then we are going to force them to have that certificate." 

Several shops and food outlets that did not have the required certificates at the time of inspection were given seven days' notice to produce the health certificates before the Metro can issue a prohibition notice, which would force them to shut their doors.

Equipment to test reused oil and whether it expired was brought along for the raid. The shops were also asked about how and where they dispose of their waste.

Ironically, the shop owners were not present at most the shops visited and the employees had to call them to ask about the required certificates because they were not displayed where they should have been. 

"A person who operates a business must have a waste removal contract," said Cllr Grootboom, adding that it was important for the shops to comply if they wanted to continue doing business. 

"The shops that are supplying food are selling it to the residents of this Metro and if that food is unhygienic, it could create health problems."

The team also took time to engage with street vendors and told them about the rules and procedures they need to follow before conducting business. 

"We don't want to discourage people from making a living. We understand that many people are not aware and we wanted to bring awareness," Grootboom said. 

He said that a monitoring team will make subsequent visits to all the shops that they visited on Wednesday to ensure that everyone is still complying with the regulations.

Fines for those found to still be operating outside of the law could be between R1 000 to R5 000. 

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