The Covid-19 pandemic has placed the spotlight on food security.
It also puts the spotlight on food safety.
The World Health Organization reminds us that we have a role to play from farm to table to ensure the food we consume is safe and will not cause damage to our health.
The food production cycle has the responsibility to ensure that consumers have access to nutritious and safe food.
For most people of the Western Cape meat forms an integral part of a balanced diet. It is, however, disconcerting to know that the very same meat that provides health can under certain unfortunate circumstances cause disease, even death. Mostly the hazards are covertly present in the form of harmful bacteria, toxins and chemical residues. To ensure the safety of meat produced in the country, Government promulgated the Meat Safety Act (Act 40 of 2000). The Act aims to provide that only safe meat is sold to consumers.
Where non-compliance in terms of the Act occurs, the Veterinary Public Health team has the legal mandate to suspend slaughter. In severe cases of non-compliance, an abattoir can be deregistered. It will no longer be allowed to slaughter animals for human consumption.
All healthy meat that passes through meat inspection is marked with an official approval stamp. Unless meat is marked as such, it is not safe to consume.
Food management systems must include good hygiene practices, cleaning and sanitation, zoning of processing areas, supplier control, storage, distribution and transport, personnel hygiene and fitness to work – all the primary conditions and activities necessary to maintain a hygienic food processing environment.
The Western Cape Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Services is responsible for managing animal risks and the safety of foods from animal origin.
The primary focus is on active and passive disease surveillance, disease control and prevention interventions as well as export facilitation of animal products.
The Western Cape Department of Agriculture’s Veterinary Exports Certification Office (VECO) is a dedicated and specialized facility that supports the industry and consumers.
The VECO provides certification services to clients who may need veterinary health certificates, movement permits, and facility audits to export their products to destinations around the world.
The Western Cape Government will play its role to ensure that food is safe and nutritious.
We will continue to encourage food producers and agribusinesses to adopt good practices and to promote food safety.
Food safety is a shared responsibility between governments, producers and consumers.