The 2018 listeriosis outbreak in South Africa highlighted the importance of food safety in the production value chain. Since then, the government has cracked down on failures in hygiene in the food supply chain. According to MD of Averda South Africa” While the deadly listeriosis outbreak was not due to neglect in the waste process, it did pose a considerable and protracted threat if food from the contaminated factories was not handled correctly.
The most recent measure was the introduction of the Compulsory Specification for Processed Meat Products, which came into effect in October 2019. Proper procedures need to be followed to eliminate danger to producers, and consumers since the threat of contamination remains ever-present.
“An estimated 10 million tonnes of food waste is generated by South Africa’s food manufacturing industry every year, it’s easy to grasp the magnitude of the possible threat to the health of communities. A critical consideration in this process is the correct disposal of food waste,” says Johan van den Berg, MD of Averda South Africa.
The guidelines suggest that suitable provision be made for food waste to be removed and stored away from food handling, storage and other working areas. All food waste, by-products and dangerous substances must be placed in containers that are clearly identifiable, suitably constructed and made of impervious material. Central to these guidelines is the implementation of processes that comply with Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) System and Guidelines. Food manufacturers should also provide adequate drainage and waste disposal systems to avoid the risk of contaminating food or the potable water supply. “
Averda transported, treated and disposed thousands of tonnes of food from the affected manufacturing facilities. The extreme danger posed by the contaminated food was considered hazardous to the public. Measures to prevent further contamination after disposal included loading and transporting materials, escorted by a security detail, to Averda’s Vlakfontein Class A Landfill site near Vereeniging.
Although we were contracted to transport, treat and dispose of these materials, food manufacturers remain solely responsible for ensuring that all food waste, not only contaminated waste, is handled correctly,” Van den Berg says.
Launched in tandem with this year’s World Food Day, SA Harvest is officially operating. CEO of SA Harvest, Alan Browde explained that the expected standards they needed to meet were outlined by the globally accepted HACCP standards. This system helps them to assess hazards and put in place control systems throughout the manufacturing process and this covers everything from the hygiene of facilities to temperature, air quality control and lighting conditions, as well as storage and waste disposal. Van den Berg says “food manufacturers have subsequently introduced new technologies and processes to avert the level of contamination seen in 2017/2018. They may not physically handle the entire process, but they do need the assurance that they can confidently report that it has been done to the highest standards.”