Food safety and hygiene audits are critical components of food preparation facilities in South Africa. These audits help ensure that food products are safe for consumption, thereby protecting public health and preventing the spread of foodborne illnesses. In this article, we will discuss the importance of food safety and hygiene audits in South Africa, and how they are regulated by Regulation 638. Regulation 638, also known as the Regulations Governing General Hygiene Requirements for Food Premises, the Transport of Food and Related Matters, was promulgated under the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act of 1972. It outlines the minimum requirements for food preparation facilities, including the need for regular food safety and hygiene audits.
What do food safety and hygiene audits entail?
Food safety audits involve an independent assessment of a food preparation facility to ensure compliance with relevant regulations and standards. The audit process examines all aspects of food preparation, from sourcing ingredients to handling finished products. The audit aims to identify potential hazards and to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to prevent contamination and ensure the safety of the food products.
In South Africa, food safety audits are conducted by approved third-party auditors trained in food safety and hygiene. These auditors use internationally recognized standards and guidelines, such as the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system, to assess the safety of food preparation facilities.
Hygiene audits, on the other hand, focus specifically on the cleanliness and hygiene of food preparation facilities. These audits examine factors such as hand washing and sanitization procedures, pest control measures, and the cleanliness of equipment and facilities. Like food safety audits, hygiene audits are important for ensuring that food products are safe for consumption.
Incidence of foodborne illnesses.
Food safety and hygiene audits are particularly important in South Africa due to the country’;s high incidence of foodborne illnesses. According to a study by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, there were 5,908 reported cases of foodborne illnesses in South Africa in 2018. These illnesses can have severe health consequences, particularly for vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.
In addition to protecting public health, food safety and hygiene audits also have economic benefits. A foodborne illness outbreak can have severe financial consequences for food preparation facilities, including loss of business, damage to reputation, and legal costs. By implementing regular food safety and hygiene audits, food preparation facilities can mitigate these risks and ensure that they are operating
in compliance with relevant regulations.
Regulation 638 sets out specific requirements for food safety and hygiene audits in South Africa. The regulation requires that food preparation facilities undergo regular audits by approved third-party auditors and that the results of these audits are recorded and kept on file for at least two years. The regulation also outlines specific requirements for food handling and storage, cleaning and sanitation, and pest control.
In conclusion, food safety and hygiene audits are critical components of food preparation facilities in South Africa. These audits help ensure that food products are safe for consumption, protect public health, and have economic benefits for food preparation facilities. By complying with the requirements of Regulation 638, food preparation facilities can mitigate the risks of foodborne illness outbreaks and ensure that they are operating in compliance with relevant regulations.