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The Democratic Alliance (DA) urges the Thabo Mofutsanyana District Municipality (TMDM) to vigorously promote the Municipality Health Inspection Service, a vital step towards ensuring food safety within our community.
Responsibility for inspecting food distribution outlets lies with the TMDM, employing Environmental Health Practitioners to assess outlets and issue Certificate of Acceptability (COA) notices to those meeting minimum standards.
These COA certificates, essential markers of safety, are issued free to qualifying outlets and must be prominently displayed. This inspection process is among the limited municipal services offered by the district. Customers have the right to demand the display of COA certificates.
Customers concerned about food safety can report violations to the Department of Community Services in the District. Street vendors pose unique challenges; their struggle for income and the provision of affordable food to impoverished people complicates oversight.
The recent surge in food poisoning-related deaths, primarily attributed to unsafe informal traders, is alarming. The DA notes disturbing statistics on food premises inspected from July to September 2023:
Dihlabeng: 56 inspected
Setsoto: 49 inspected
Mantsopa: 38 inspected
Nketoana: 37 inspected
Phumelela: 16 inspected
Maluti-a-Phofung: 99 inspected
These figures are increasingly underreported, but what remains deeply concerning is the failure of the Mayor, Municipal Manager, and Director of Community Services to identify and rectify this underreporting.
While citing insufficient funds for Environmental Health staff, the Mayor diverts resources to public meetings without tangible outcomes. The DA proposes redirecting these funds to enhance food safety monitoring and educate consumers about their rights. Furthermore, the Directorate of Community Services must aid informal traders in meeting basic health standards.
We demand immediate action by TMDM to allocate funds to employ Environmental Health staff, intensify food safety monitoring, educate consumers, and assist informal traders. Lives depend on these measures. Implementing these steps will result in safer food practices, protecting lives, and fostering a healthier, more secure community.
Issued by Alison Oates - DA Councillor Thabo Mofutsanyane District Municipality