The recent increase in ‘fake foods’ across the country has prompted concerns about just how safe food is for consumption in Cape Town. The City of Cape Town has announced that its Health Department is in the process of establishing a ‘Specialised Food Control Unit’ that will focus on maintaining food safety in Cape Town.
This is in commemoration of World Environmental Health Day being hosted on 26 September 2018.
The Specialised Food Control Unit will be implemented along with multiple developments that are in the pipeline for the Environmental Health Services sector. The developments are supported by R9.2-million in funding to create 14 new posts.
The ‘Specialised Food Control Unit’ will aim to provide guidance to manufacturers and ensure that compliance measures are being followed. The unit will also help to structure the enforcement of labeling regulations, ensuring that manufacturers communicate all the vital details of their goods to consumers.
A focus on the implementation of new legislation regarding food security in the city will be carried out by the food unit. Measures of surveillance, monitoring, and enforcement of laws will be carried out by the Food Control Unit.
City of Cape Town’s Mayco Member for Safety and Security; and Social Services, JP Smith explained the role that the Specialised Food Unit will play to ensure that food safety is prioritized.
“The new Food Control Unit will focus on the more than 800 food manufacturers in Cape Town that produce for the local and international market, as well as dairy farms. It is also an opportunity to improve monitoring of products coming into Cape Town and ensure that these are legally compliant and safe for consumption,” Smith said.
Smith is also encouraging the public to be aware of ‘fake food’ and counterfeit food items.
“Food fraud is an intentional and financially-oriented act that can cause harm to consumers, public health, and the economy. Fraudsters intentionally substitute, add, tamper with or misrepresent food, ingredients or packaging for financial gain. Food fraud can have negative effects on consumers’ health and may even lead to public health risks,” said Smith.
An example of ‘fake foods’ includes mince labelled as beef mince that is actually made up of several different animals other than beef, or the use of coloured cane sugar syrup that is marketed off as honey.
Counterfeit food objects include reproducing labels of well-known items and placing them on inferior goods that claim to be from the original producer.
JP Smith warns consumers to be wary when purchasing food items and to double check all labels.
“Consumers should be vigilant and be careful of offers on established brand products that seem too good to be true. Check on the quality of the label of the product. Established brands spend a lot of time and money on producing quality labels and producing these labels is expensive,” Smith said.
The City aims to improve the quality and safety of foods that are going in and out of Cape Town, ensuring that consumers health requirements are met.