South Africa publishes new meat processing regulations to curb listeriosis outbreak

SOUTH AFRICASouth Africa’s new regulations set to curb outbreak of listeriosis published by the Department of Trade and Industry now give effect to the guidelines for the processed meat industry as laid out in SANS 885.

The new compulsory regulations, giving clear checks and balances for processed meat manufacturing, specifies the handling, preparation, processing, packaging, refrigeration, freezing, chilling and storage of processed meat products.

They cover all aspects of a manufacturing facility, from its physical structure and equipment, to ingredients used, test methods and the handling, preparing, processing, producing, packaging, marking, labelling and storage of the product.

In addition to that they are intended to enable the inspection of processing plants.

The regulations follow an agreement between the Departments of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Departments of Health (DoH) on the final publication of the Compulsory Specification for Processed Meat Products (VC 9100).

After extensive stakeholder consultation, the regulation was gazetted on 8 August 2019, to come into effect two months from the date of publication.

The new regulations will be enforced by the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS), an entity reporting to the DTI.

The DTI will work with the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development (DALRRD) to coordinate the enforcement of the new regulations.

The NRCS is setting up an extensive regulatory programme of inspections throughout the country. This will enable government and industry to detect any food borne bugs early.

Government will continue to make improvements to food safety in order to ensure that consumers can rely on the food products that the local industry is producing.

The outbreak of listeriosis from contaminated processed food have resulted in the deaths of a number of people as well as the closure of processing plants last year.

The threat of listeriosis hasn’t subsided since the 2017/2018 outbreak. In fact, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases confirmed in October 2019 that 87 laboratory-confirmed listeriosis cases had been reported in the year since then.

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