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City warns about counterfeit and expired food

Always check that expiry dates haven't been tampered with and consume food before it shows signs of contamination.

The City of Ekurhuleni (CoE) warns the public to be cautious of possible health dangers of buying counterfeit and expired food products.

This is amidst the circulating videos on social media of some shops, mainly informal traders, selling these products.

The city’s environmental health practitioners (EHPs) have intensified food hygiene and safety inspections at food handling premises to stop the practice.

The CoE encourages the public to buy foodstuffs only sold from premises that have a certificate of acceptability. This certificate is only issued after inspections are conducted and the premises meet all food safety requirements.

It is displayed in the shop for all to see or produced on demand and if not displayed.

Members of the public are encouraged to report the selling of counterfeit or expired food products, including the selling of foodstuff that has their packages removed or altered to environmental health practitioners at the city’s customer care centres.

The public is also discouraged from playing the role of an EHP by inspecting and seizing foodstuff from the shops as this is an impersonation of an EHP. In terms of the Health Professions Act, 56 of 1974, no person shall perform any act deemed to be an act pertaining to any registerable health profession, such as environmental health profession.

The consumers must take note of the date markings on the products and what they mean.

• Date of minimum durability (best before or best before end) means the date which signifies the end of the period under any stated storage condition during which the product will remain fully marketable and will retain any specific qualities for which claims have been made.

Beyond the date, the food may still be perfectly satisfactory. It further serves the purpose of assisting shop owners regarding stock rotation of products on the shelf. In other words, to apply the FIFO (first-in first-out) principle. These foodstuffs do not require to be removed from the shelves and can be sold for human consumption.

• Sell by, or display until, means the last day of an offer for sale to the consumer after which there remains a reasonable storage period at home. The food that has past the sell by or display until date must be removed from the shelves and must not be sold for human consumption to the public.

• Use by (best consumed before, recommended last consumption date, expiry date) means the date which signifies the end of the estimated period under the stated storage conditions after which the product probably will not have the quality attributes normally expected by the consumers and after which date the food should not be regarded as marketable. These foodstuffs must be removed from the shelves and must not be sold for human consumption to the public.

The following foodstuffs are exempted from date markings:

• Alcoholic beverages described in the Liquor Product Act, 1989 (Act 60 of 1989);

• Chewing gum;

• Confectionary products consisting of flavoured and/or coloured sugars;

• Fresh fruit and vegetables which have not been peeled or treated;

• Processed meat products such as biltong and dried sausages which have not been prepacked;

• Ready-to-eat flour confectionery, provided that the date of manufacture is indicated on the label or in the direct vicinity where the product is displayed;

• Sugars;

• Unprocessed, unpacked fish; unprocessed, unpacked meat; and poultry which have not been pre-packed;
• Vinegar.

Residents may lodge their complaints regarding the selling of unsound and unsatisfactory food products at the following environmental health offices:

• Tsakani/Duduza: 011 999 8200

• Brakpan: 011 999 8148

• Springs and Kwa-Thema: 011 999 9001

• Nigel: 011 999 6663

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