Food safety in South Africa
With the recent outbreak of Listeriosis it has become more evident that food safety needs to be addressed in South Africa. It has also demonstrated that it is a complex issue with far-reaching impacts for which one party cannot be held accountable. Food safety is everyone’s responsibility, this includes us as industry, retailers, government and the general public.
With this in mind, SAMPA is embarking on an educational programme for consumers, ensuring we are empowering consumers with facts through various media channels.
What you need to know about Listeria and Listeriosis:
It is important to note that Listeria is an environmental bacteria which is found in your everyday environment. Listeriosis is an infection mainly caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteria listeria monocytogenes which is found in soil, water and vegetation.
The symptoms are flu-like and can lead to nausea, diarrhea, infection of the bloodstream and brain. Literiosis is very treatable and is more likely to affect pregnant women, the elderly or individuals with a weakened immune system.
Contamination of bacteria such as Listeria and others such as E.coli and Salmonella can be best prevented through food safety measures. Like Salmonella, Listeria is killed off in the cooking process and consumers need to practice safe hygiene in this regard.
Surface contamination is common across all bacteria and the public should avoid cutting through the wrapping of products as contamination can happen at any point during the transportation and storing process as well as in fridges.
Over and above the food safety protocols which producers must adhere to, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that the general public adhere to the following food safety guidelines:
- Washing of hands, food preparation areas, and raw vegetables and fruit thoroughly separating raw and cooked ingredients
- Ensuring that cutlery is clean and not using knives used on raw meat to cut cooked or ready-to-eat products in order to avoid cross-contamination from raw to cooked food
- Bacteria is killed off in the cooking process so follow cooking instructions
- Keep food at safe temperatures and promptly refrigerate perishable foods at below 5 degrees
The adherence to basic food hygiene principles in the home minimizes the risk of food-borne bacteria of which listeria is but one.