The government said yesterday that it would not freeze food prices or set up a price regulator to alleviate the plight of the poor who are finding it hard to survive.
On Monday Cosatu called on the government to freeze the skyrocketing food prices and set up a national price regulating authority to control increases in basic foods.
"There is no intention to set up a food price regulator," said director-general in the Health Department, Thami Mseleku, at a media briefing yesterday.
Instead, Mseleku said, the government was looking at zero rating more foodstuffs and "re-evaluating social grants".
A government task team set up to find solutions to skyrocketing food prices has submitted a report to cabinet.
Mseleku said this report would be made public "within the next month".
Deputy Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology Ntombazana Botha told the briefing that people living in informal settlements should not be seen as helpless.
"They can use the space around their shacks to grow vegetables," she said.
Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said people living in shacks could even plant vegetables in buckets.
Mseleku said that the government could regulate the price of medicines but not of food "because health is not a commodity for the market to determine".
Meanwhile, Tshabalala-Msimang announced that the government would soon introduce free vaccines against viral diarrhoea and pneumonia for babies.
She also said that a new test for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis that produces results within seven days "as opposed to the current three to four months" would be introduced soon.