KNYSNA NEWS - Garden Route District Municipality's (GRDM) environmental health practitioners (EHPs) in Knysna, Mtetho Sithonga and Mendy Tyhawana, recently presented an information and awareness session to informal food traders.
The traders, who currently run their businesses in the Smutsville/Sizamile areas, attended the session on 13 November.
According to the traders, they see a spike in business primarily over weekends when they sell braai meat in front of taverns and on street corners.
In view of the information and awareness sessions, GRDM's manager of municipal health and environmental services, said, "Ongoing health and hygiene education sessions play an essential role in the practices of food traders". He also confirmed that "improper food-handling practices, inadequate temperature control and poor food storage practices, as well as improper cleaning of equipment and utensils, cause food-borne illnesses."
During the informative session, EHPs focused on the five keys to safer food, compliance issues and incentives for those adhering to food safety standards.
The keys to safer food deal primarily with:
1. Keep clean (dealing mainly with hygiene practices).
2. Separate raw from cooked food.
3. Cook food thoroughly.
4. Keep food at safe temperatures.
5. Use safe water and safe raw materials.
"Food safety is about producing, handling, storing and preparing food in such a manner which prevents infection and contamination of food," said Sithonga, who also pointed out that it's especially important to have good manufacturing practices (GMPs) for food in the big production chains as well. "In other words, food safety helps to promote good health by ensuring wholesomeness of food," said Sithonga. The crux of the matter is that education sessions promote the importance of public health. While awareness sessions remind food traders about the importance of a "health first" approach – so do inspections and enforcement.
These mechanisms require synergy and ongoing collaboration between the public and private sectors to make things work to the standard it was intended to by law.
Strict adherence to standards and best practices is required for every food trader, because they are the final point of sale of foodstuffs.
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