Ekurhuleni environmental health practitioners removed items off shelves that pose health hazards, such as meat packages without a sell-by date, expired and rotten food, and unlabelled frozen mixed veggies during the recent spaza shops inspections across the City.
Residents carry equal responsibility to adhere to the storage specifications of the food they buy to avoid foodborne health conditions.
While it is the shop owner's responsibility is to ensure food products are properly labelled and are off the shelves as per the product specifications, the consumer carries the same responsibility of properly storing food under the stated storage conditions. This is to ensure the quality of food sold remains fit for human consumption.
Amongst the important labelling to be aware of is the "sell-by" stamp. According to regulations relating to labelling and advertising of foodstuffs (Gazette No 32975 – Regulation 146) "sell-by" means the last date of offer for sale to the consumer after which there remains a reasonable storage period at home. This is a date marked on perishable products indicating the recommended time by which they should be sold.
The regulation further states that "best before" is the date which signifies the end of the period under any stated storage conditions during which the product will remain fully marketable, and will retain any specific qualities for which tacit or express claims have been made.
Nevertheless, beyond the date, the food may still be perfectly satisfactory. To maintain the food quality, the appropriate storage instructions before and after opening should be adhered to.
The manufacturer determines the appropriate storage instructions to ensure that any specific quality attributes are retained and preserved.
Nevertheless, the customer may use their own discretion not to or to consume the food based on the change in smell, colouring or shape from its original form. When the "sell by" or "best before" dates have been reached, it does not mean that the food is necessarily dangerous, but the risk of microbiological deterioration has started to increase.
Under no circumstances should you consume or accept food that has a foul smell or is in an unpleasant form.
It is illegal and a punishable offence to sell unlabeled food. Residents can lodge a complaint regarding the selling of unsatisfactory food products at the following Health and Social Development offices:
- Boksburg and Vosloorus: (011) 999 5407
- Alberton Head Office: (011) 999 2970
- Kempton Park: (011) 999 6461
- Benoni: (011) 999 6431
- Nigel: (011) 999 9258
- Edenvale: (011) 999 3335
- Alberton and Germiston: (011) 999 0347/8 or (011) 999 5737 or (011) 999 0530
- Katlehong 1 and 2 and Thokoza: (011) 999 2347/8 or (011) 999 2466