Millions of people in the world fall ill and many die as a result of eating unsafe food. In 2000 the World Health Organisation (WHO) recognised food safety as an essential public health function.
The food control section within the department is responsible for ensuring the safety of food in South Africa. This service is based on the basic needs of communities and the right of South Africans to make informed food choices without being misled.
The main functions of food control include to -
- Administer food legislation. This includes developing and publicising regulations for food safety, food labelling and related matters as well as developing technical guidelines where necessary
- Inform, educate and communicate to industry, consumers, the media, government departments and other stakeholders about food safety and related matters
- Audit and support Port Health Services in the provinces related to the control of imported foodstuffs. Audit and support Municipal Health Services in metros and district municipalities related to law enforcement, monitoring, information, education and communication and other activities
- Evaluate risk assessments related to agricultural chemicals and food produced through biotechnology for the departments of agriculture and forestry and fisheries
- Co-ordinate routine and specific food monitoring programmes and attend to food safety alerts
- Act as South Africa’s National Contact Point for the joint FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) and the European Union Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF)
- Convene or serve on national and international bodies that deal with food control matters.