Alleged fake and expired foodstuff under the spotlight

Monday, September 3, 2018

The Health Department is to look into the safety of alleged “fake foods” following various videos which have been widely circulated on social media.

“Due to the high volume of complaints received by the department in the past few days, we take these allegations seriously as potential for danger to human health.

“We have the responsibility to determine if there is truth to these allegations, and where necessary take urgent action against perpetrators,” said Health spokesperson Popo Maja. 

Therefore today, the Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is expected to pronounce on the allegations regarding fake and expired foodstuffs being sold to the public.

The department said while the authenticity of the videos cannot be verified, some cases are currently being investigated by the environmental health practitioners based in municipalities.

“The Ministry of Health views these allegations as serious and has instructed provinces and municipalities to investigate all these claims. Municipalities have embarked on special blitzes to inspect foodstuff sold mainly in township outlets. This is a special operation over and above the normal routine monitoring done by health inspectors,” said Maja.

Among the foodstuffs alleged to be fake, contain harmful food colourants, or are expired include fake eggs being manufactured; fake plastic rice and fish; fake beef; fake mutton; Fanta grape 1,25L label; Stoney ginger beer; Fanta orange 1,25L; Twist granadilla 2L; tonic water 1L; Valpre spring water; Albany brown bread and Blue Band margarine; syrup being sold as honey and baked beans in a fish tin.

According to Maja, the food industry has also been requested to confirm the authenticity of the potential counterfeit foodstuffs which include verifying the brands of their products such as soft drinks, tinned foodstuffs as currently displayed on social media platforms. 

“The department is working in partnership with other government regulatory authorities from Agriculture and Trade and Industry, including the National Consumer Commission, to confirm allegations of compromised quality standards.  

“The public is encouraged to notify environmental health practitioners and the South African Police Services regarding any suspicious foodstuffs and provide evidence where possible,” said Maja. 

Despite the ‘fake’ food products doing rounds on social media, the Ministry of Health said it has not received reports or notifications of human illness associated with the products.

In addition to an announcement regarding alleged fake foods, the Minister will give an update on the country’s efforts in ending the outbreak of Listeriosis. –