When President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed parliament in June 2018 on the deadly listeriosis outbreak that had killed nearly 200 people, he clearly expected a food safety agency to be established in the near future.

He said the government had put in place a process to establish a food safety agency and the regulatory framework to ensure the requisite high levels of health and safety. This work would have been completed in conjunction with the parliamentary processes that had been put in place to bring the new statutory agency into existence.

As you will be aware, no such agency has been established. The body that should be finalising arrangements for the Food Safety Agency is the inter-departmental food safety co-ordinating committee. It comprises MP’s portfolio committees on agriculture, health, and trade and industry. It was set up in 2012, and by 2019 had worked on developing an integrated food safety framework and the establishment of a Food Safety Agency.

Proponents of the Food Safety Agency supported by Ramaphosa will be disappointed at parliament’s failure to re-establish the inter-departmental food safety co-ordinating committee. However, as far as I can establish, it has not sat since March 2019 and was not re-established after the election in May 2019, and so has not been able to complete its work.

FairPlay believes the establishment of a statutory Food Safety Agency is as urgent now as it was in 2018 and the preceding years. We have pointed out the public health risks that such an agency could prevent or combat, including those potentially posed by imported raw meat such as chicken.

Francois Baird
Founder, FairPlay

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