Health department probes 'fake' food claims

The Department of Health will investigate allegations of fake branded food products.
Food wastage The Department of Health will investigate allegations of fake branded food products.

Following scores of photographs and videos allegedly depicting “fake” food being sold at foreign-owned spaza shops in several townships‚ the Health Ministry announced on Tuesday that it was taking steps to verify these claims.

Ministry spokesman Popo Maja said they had received numerous complaints – saying that if they were true then the food posed a serious danger.

"While the authenticity of these videos cannot be verified‚ some cases are currently being investigated by the environmental health practitioners based in municipalities. We have the responsibility to determine if there is truth to these allegations‚ and where necessary take urgent action against perpetrators‚" said Maja.

He said that‚ so far‚ the videos and pictures had claimed that eggs‚ rice‚ fish‚ beef‚ mutton‚ fizzy cold drinks‚ bottled water‚ bread‚ margarine baked beans and syrup were among the fake items.

"Municipalities have embarked on special blitzes to inspect foodstuff sold mainly in townships outlets. This is a special operation over and above the normal routine monitoring done by Environmental Health Practitioners (health inspectors)‚" Maja said.

"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‚ etc. currently displayed on social media platforms."

The authorities from the agriculture and trade and industry departments‚ including the National Consumer Commission‚ have also since been roped in the investigation.

"The public is encouraged to notify environmental health practitioners and the South African Police Service regarding any suspicious foodstuffs and provide evidence where possible‚" Maja said.

The Health Ministry said there had‚ at this stage‚ been no reports of illnesses reported which could be linked to the consumption of the alleged fake foods.

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