Food safety questionable

There are many loopholes in the food safety systems in Namibia a report has found.

12 November 2018 | Health

The health ministry, through it public and environmental health services division (PEHSD), does not adequately plan, conduct, monitor and evaluate food inspections, in order to ensure food safety in the country.

This was among the findings of a performance audit on the management and administration of food safety in Namibia in health ministry for the 2014/15 and 2015/16 financial years.

The audit found there were no reporting relationships between the health ministry and local authorities, and that stakeholder meetings were attended poorly.

The report also found that the PEHSD does not adequately plan for the supervision of environmental health practitioners, in order to ensure that inspections are conducted in accordance with environmental health legislation.

It has also established that the Food Safety Council has not been established, as per the requirements of the food safety policy.

The audit was motivated by problems identified during a pre-study, which highlighted there were inadequate environmental health inspections and coordination among food safety stakeholders, no health officials at some ports of entry and inadequate enforcement of food safety legislation.

The report also found that the non-attainment of biosafety and quality food testing during the financial years under review were because of a lack of accredited food laboratories in the country, inadequate funding, staff turnover and poor coordination between the ministry and its stakeholders.

There was also low compliance in terms of port health services, due to a lack of infrastructure at points of entry and a lack of port health officials.

The common reasons for the issuance of condemnation certificates included the expiry dates of products having lapsed, dented food cans dented, fresh food becoming rotten, animal carcasses being condemned and ‘best before’ dates having lapsed.

The report included a picture of damaged jam sachets that were condemned by health inspectors just before being served to patients at the Katutura referral hospital, as well as a batch of condemned viennas.

According to the report, food is stored on unhygienic, dusty floors at the Katutura state hospital.

JEMIMA BEUKES

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