Any business in South Africa that supplies or sells food (especially perishables), take-aways or sit down meals are required to apply for and hold a relevant licence. This can usually be arranged by contacting your local municipality’s trade license department. They will provide you with the appropriate documentation for you to submit your application. You’ll be required to settle an application fee and the following departments are likely to assess your submission:
- Urban planning
- Environmental health
- Noise and air pollution control
- Public safety
- Building control
Once all inspections have been carried out by these various departments, if there are favourable reports and overwhelming recommendations for approval, your trade license will be issued.
Food Service Accountabilities
Providing safe foodstuffs to the public remains, in many parts, the responsibility of the food service purveyor. Authorities are in place to ensure that this obligation is honoured by any establishment that provides meals or produce to consumers. These regulations can be studied in detail within both the Health Act (No 63 of 1977) and the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act of 1972.
Additional standards have also been introduced in order to curate a guide for food service establishments, which need to provide foodstuffs that are safe for human consumption. For example, the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system. This legislation addresses over 12 categories of food-handling activities, including preparation and catering, as well as street-vended foods. This internationally recognised food safety management system focusses on the control and prevention of identified hazards in any given establishment.
Fundamental Consumer Rights
It’s important that South African businesses within the food sectors adopt principles of fair value, good quality and consumer safety in order to preserve and grow our service industries. Each and every restaurateur is accountable and liable for disclosing any information, including warning regarding risks or hazards, so that South Africans can make informed choices. Typical areas of concern, which need to be monitored are:
- Microbiological – these risks include bacteria, toxins, parasites and viruses, which can potentially infect a large number of customers and are considered a high threat.
- Allergens – this has a potential affect that can apply to over 10% of customers who may have food allergies, the risk is considered higher in percentage of children compared to adults. These usually are centred on seafood and nut allergies (which can cause anaphylactic shock and even death).
- Chemical – the potential affect off this type of contamination is considered medium risk but can also affect large numbers of consumers. Examples include aflatoxins, pesticides, sanitizers, cleansers and non-food grade lubricants.
- Physical – while considered low risk, this can still affect large numbers of customers depending on the circumstances. Examples include, pests, animal origin, hair, jewellery, bandages, paper, stones, and even glass.
Always ensure that you’re deploying good manufacturing practices and hygiene standards if you’re in the food industry. This means clean, sanitize, control temperatures, avoid cross-contamination and know your ingredients, as well as select approved suppliers only.