Report from the Department of Health; Trade and Industry and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on Strengthening Food Control and Food Labelling in South Africa
Outline Background Overview of the process followed by the Departments since the 26th of March 2013 Joint consultative seminar on the challenges and solutions of food controls in South Africa Summary results Aspects considered in the proposal by the government departments to address identified challenges Proposal to address identified challenges Conclusion and Acknowledgements
Background Presentation is based on the three departments’ response to the request by the Joint Sitting of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committees held on the 26th of March 2013 on food control gaps in South Africa identified pursuant to the horse meat scandal At the Joint Sitting, the Portfolio Committees instructed the 3 departments to develop a clear action plan on how food control collaboration would work going forward.
Overview of the events between the Department’s since the 26th of March 2013 with regard to finding solution to strengthen food controls in the country Meetings where held by the management official representatives from the 3 departments A one day brain storming joint consultative seminar on the challenges and solutions of food controls in South Africa was conceived and held on the 30th of May 2013 to identify the challenges in the whole food value chain for the South African food industry and draft an action plan to address the challenges. 118 delegates attended the brain storming seminar The delegates were subdivided into 5 focus groups and after some discussions presented the identified food control challenges in South Africa and suggested various options for possible solution.
Joint consultative seminar on the challenges and solutions of food controls in South Africa Highlights of the Seminar summary results: The value chains in the agrifood sector in South Africa and her international trading partners have became increasingly complex. South Africa’s multiple departmental food control system with fragmentation of legislation, structure and functions has not been able to respond strategically to the increased scope and complexity with new structures and initiatives resulting in current food control operational challenges.
Aspects considered in the proposal by the government departments to address identified challenges Elements of a national food control system: Food law and regulations; Food control management; Official control services (inspection services); Laboratory services: Food monitoring and epidemiological data; Information, education, communication and training.
Aspects considered in the proposal by the government departments to address identified challenges The investigation conducted by the National Consumer Commission, Multidisciplinary nature of actions required for optimal food safety and control; Previous attempts aimed at addressing the disparate system of food control in South Africa; Critical role to be played by the private sector; Need to restore consumer confidence in the food supply chain locally and beyond our borders; The need to act in the short, medium and long term; The need for an effective penalty system to dissuade ‘cowboys’ in the food industry. Proposal by the government departments with inputs from the Industry to address identified challenges are provided below with brief suggestions on attempts to integrate the food control system
What are the benefits of this approach? • Uniform and consistent application of protection measures; • Ability to act decisively to protect consumers; • Single source of information in the event of an incident; • Improved cost efficiency and more effective use of resources and expertise; • Harmonization of food standards; • Capacity to quickly respond to emerging challenges and the demands of the domestic and international marketplace; and • The provision of more streamlined and efficient services, benefiting industry and promoting trade; • Partnership with industry.
Our expectations from Industry Industry has a critical role to play in a proactive rather than reactive manner Know and understand laws, regulations and standards applicable to them; Foster consumer awareness and education/information; Ensure supply chain processes integrity; Screen and monitor from ingredients to end product; Act responsibly including reporting to Government to enable Government to prioritise resources for those who require guidance; Keep abreast with innovation around the world - sharing experiences with different industries; Report cases of fraudulent practices by industry members to law enforcement agencies.
Conclusion and Acknowledgements Strengthening food controls is of utmost importance to meet current and future realities of public health challenges of our country in its quest for economic development The proposed action plan is work in progress More consultations are planned for specific intervention areas mentioned in the currently proposed action plan We would like to acknowledge the Consumers, Food consultants and multi-sectoral food industry groups who contributed to the Seminar on Food control challenges and solutions that led to the current draft action plan, THANK YOU!!