Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  01 Sep 2010

FOOD & BEVERAGES: Beware Of where You Eat


Recent Gauteng Business News

Thousands of South Africans may be potentially vulnerable to a wide range of bacteria that can cause anything from a mild tummy ache to life threatening forms of food poisoning because restaurants and shops supplying fresh food fail to adhere to the regulations laid down by law.

More than half of all restaurants and food traders don’t have business licences or any of the other documentation that would render them liable to regular visits from health inspectors to ensure that they adhere to the proper rules and regulations.

Jeannette Costa, a sales executive with Pretoria-based CSI Africa which performs private forensic investigations, said the Business Act 71 of 1991 made it a crime for any supplier of perishable food which includes restaurants and food stalls at flea markets to supply food without a business licence.

“When we were asked to launch an investigation by a corporate client, we were astonished to find that even some well known supermarkets with branches throughout the country did not comply with the code despite the fact that they could be shut down by local authorities for being in breach.”

She said in addition to the business licence, food-related businesses also required a health certificate issued by a health inspector to certify that the premises conformed with the all the legal requirements as well as a fire certificate from the local emergency services to testify that it fully complied with fire regulations.

“Because the initial fines for transgression of the act are small (usually between R400 and R500 depending of the local authority) most traders would rather pay the fine than get their premises up to code,” Costa said.

What few members of the public realise is that some bacteria found in some of these unlicensed premises such as Botulism and others can actually be fatal, she said.

“Even in the very best run, fully compliant kitchens, accidents can and do happen. Recently when matriculants of Cape Town high school fell ill with suspected food poisoning after a matric ball at an upmarket city hotel, a number of them who attended the matric ball complained of chills, fever, back pain, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhoea, which set in either the same night or the day after the function at a five star hotel in the city.

Guests were served a R300-a-head buffet of a variety of dishes, including chicken, fish, vegetables and desserts.

The executive director of Cape Town City Health Dr Ivan Bromfield said that a preliminary report from the investigation at the hotel indicated that hygiene practices at hotel were very good and all codes adhered to.

"A good standard of hygiene and manufacturing practices was found at the hotel.

CSI Africa has set up a new division to assist food vendors to acquire all the necessary certification to comply with the act.

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