[South Africa] Government publishes regulations for processed meat products
New regulations to protect the South African consumer against health and safety risks posed by the production of processed meat products will come into effect this month.
During the period from Mid-2017 to March 2018, the outbreak of listeriosis from contaminated processed food, resulted in the deaths of a number of people as well as the closure of processing plants. The new regulations are intended to enable inspection of processing plants in order to avoid a similar tragedy.
The new regulations follow agreement between the Departments of Trade & Industry (the dti), and of Health (DoH) on the final publication of the Compulsory Specification for Processed Meat Products (VC 9100). The new regulations will be enforced by the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS), an entity reporting to the dti.
After extensive stakeholder consultation, the final Compulsory Specification for Processed Meat Products, was gazetted on 8 August 2019 to come into force 2 months from the date of publication.
The aim of this Compulsory Specification is to effectively regulate those categories of Processed Meat Products that are considered as high risk, in order to protect the health and safety of consumers. the dti will work with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) to coordinate the enforcement of the new regulations in terms of the Agricultural Product Standards Act.
The NRCS is setting up an extensive regulatory programme of inspections throughout the country. This will enable government and industry to detect any food borne bugs early. Government will continue to make improvements to food safety in order to ensure that consumers can rely on the food products that the local industry is producing.
Speaking about the new regulations, the Minister of Trade & Industry, Mr Ebrahim Patel, stated:
“This is an important step in ensuring that consumers are protected against harmful food-borne bacteria. Our food industry is important to the country’s economic development and job creation. Jobs in the food industry must be secured through measures that provide consumers with appropriate protection. We have agreed that a task team comprising of officials from the three departments (the dti, DoH and DALRRD) be nominated to consider a dedicated Food Safety Authority for the country.”
Added Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize, “this denotes an era of governance where there is effective multi-sectoral collaboration to protect our people from environmental dangers whilst at the same time protecting food and job security. We are very pleased with the resolutions in the interest of preventative strategies for a healthier nation.”