Food safety refers to the assurance that food will not cause harm to the consumer when it is prepared and/or eaten according to its intended use. Section 2(1) of the Foodstuffs Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, 1972 (Act No. 54 of 1972) prevents any person to put into international trade any food that is unfit for human consumption. The Agricultural Products Standards Act, 1990 (Act 119 of 1990) controls and promotes specific product quality standards for the local market and for export purposes. It is administered and enforced by the Directorate: Food Safety and Quality Assurance in the Department of Agriculture.
With respect to food safety, the Perishable Products Export Control Board has been appointed and authorized to conduct Food Safety audits (Regulation 707), test groundnuts for aflatoxins (Regulation No. 1145 tolerance for fungus-produced toxins in foodstuffs) and conduct compositional testing of dairy products (Regulation No. R2581 relating to dairy products and imitation dairy products) destined for the export market.
The priority areas of this programme are the following:
- Ensuring consistent production of safe and quality products by reducing risks of compromised food quality;
- Maintaining consumer (local and international) confidence in food safety and quality by using reliable, advance and rapid technologies in testing quality characteristics of food to ensure compliance, and testing mycotoxin tolerance levels, pesticide residues and microorganisms;
- Promoting safe production practices for growers through food safety audits and strengthening national food control systems; and
- Reducing the negative impact on the environment by ensuring compliance to regulations.