Department of Health issues caution on food safety.

Department of Health issues caution on food safety. Image: iStock

Department of Health issues caution on food safety

Department of Health warns consumers to prioritise quality and safety in Black Friday food purchases over quantity and savings.

Department of Health issues caution on food safety.

Department of Health issues caution on food safety. Image: iStock

The Department of Health has issued a stern warning to consumers as the Black Friday shopping frenzy approaches, urging them to prioritise quality and safety over quantity and savings, particularly when it comes to food products.

The emphasis is on mitigating the risk of purchasing counterfeit and expired foodstuffs, which could pose serious health hazards.

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“It is indisputable that Black Friday deals provide consumers with discounts and savings on a variety of goods. Therefore, it is important for consumers to guard against purchasing counterfeit and expired foodstuffs by thoroughly checking food labeling and expiry dates on items to prevent ongoing sporadic cases of life-threatening food poisoning,” the department emphasised.

Reporting suspicious goods

The department encourages consumers to be vigilant and report any suspicious goods sold by outlets and retailers to environmental health practitioners or food inspectors at their nearest municipal offices or Consumer Goods Council of South Africa.

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The consumption of expired and counterfeit foods can lead to serious health risks, including food poisoning, allergic reactions, and long-term health complications. To combat this, the department has been working closely with stakeholders to raise public awareness about the dangers of consuming such products.

With 1712 environmental health practitioners serving 62 million South Africans. The department acknowledges the challenges in monitoring all outlets effectively.

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“Efforts to prevent the production and selling of counterfeit and expired foodstuffs detrimental to human health cannot be left solely in the hands of food inspectors; it should be everyone’s business,” said the Department.

Cautionary measures

Consumers are advised not to purchase or consume highly perishable products with damaged packaging or lapsed expiry dates. Even if they appear to be in good condition.

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The department highlighted that the South African Police Service (SAPS) is empowered to investigate and act as inspectors under the Foodstuffs Act. They have the authority to collect food samples for analysis, especially in cases involving unnatural deaths.

Tips for Identifying Illicit Food Products

  • Color Discrepancies: Counterfeit products may have different colors due to incorrect additives.
  • Inconsistencies in Texture, Smell, and Color: Genuine products maintain consistency in these aspects.
  • Check for Adulteration: Ensure manufacturing and expiry dates are visible and not adulterated.
  • Examine Nutrition Labels: Fake goods often have discrepancies in ingredient listings.
  • Packaging Inspection: Carefully scrutinize packaging for any suspicious details, as counterfeiters often fall short in replicating it perfectly.

As Black Friday approaches, the Department of Health’s advice serves as a crucial reminder for consumers to stay vigilant. To also make informed choices, especially when it comes to the safety of the products they purchase.