Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Amendment Bill: deliberations and adoption

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Health

14 March 2006
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Meeting report

HEALTH PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
15 March 2006
FOODSTUFFS, COSMETICS AND DISINFECTANTS AMENDMENT BILL: DELIBERATIONS AND ADOPTION

Acting Chairperson:
Ms M M Madumisa (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Amendment Bill [B35-2005]
Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Amendment Bill [B35A-2005]
Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Amendment Bill [B35B-2005]

SUMMARY
The Committee unanimously adopted the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Amendment Bill (B35-2005) at this meeting with amendments. Essentially, the Bill amends the Principal Act of 1972 to authorise medical practitioners, environmental health practitioners and veterinarians to test foodstuffs under certain circumstances; to increase the sums to be deposited by persons requesting an analysis or examination of food samples; to regulate the exportation and importation of foodstuffs, and the inspection and removal, detention and destruction of food producing animals and water used for food processing.

MINUTES
The Chairperson informed Members that the Committee would only be dealing with the proposed amendments to the Bill.

Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) commented that the words 'display' and 'sale' had been inserted as an amendment to the Bill. She wanted to know what benefit this adds to the Act.

Mr Pretorius (Department of Health) replied that the word 'display' referred to the protection of products from becoming contaminated. He said that it does not refer to the way in which products were displayed for promotional purposes.

Ms M L Matisemela (ANC) wanted to know why the Director General: Health could not authorise someone who he/she deems fit as an inspector and why this was not captured in the definition.

Ms M N Manana (ANC) replied that this definition is catered for in the Principal Act of 1972.

Ms Kohler-Barnard commented that yesterday they had considered inserting the phrase "suitably qualified". She wanted to know what decision was taken on this.

Mr Pretorius replied that the Minister would authorise whom she deems fit. He said that all practitioners are registered with their relevant organisation. This meant that they are suitably qualified.

Ms Manana commented that it is up to the local authorities to grant permission for inspectors to go out and do inspections.

Mr A F Madela (ANC) commented that 'suitable' means someone who is fit. He said that in the other document containing the proposed amendments to the Bill the words 'suitably fit' were present, but they were not present in the list of proposed amendments.

Mr B L Mashile (ANC) said they had discussed removing the amounts for the fine in Clause 7 amending Section 18 of Act 54 of 1972. He was not sure if this had been taken up with the Department.

Dr R Rabinowitz (IFP) wanted to know how members of the public could get funding if they wanted food to be sent for testing.

Mr Pretorius replied that the Act did not provide for this. Members of the public would have to lodge a compliant with the relevant authorities.

Dr Rabinowitz felt that this information had to be communicated to the public.

Ms Manana replied that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) made provision for such complaints. This was where the public should go if they wanted to lodge complaints.

Mr Pretorius commented that health education would play a pivotal role in educating the public about this issue. He said that often the National Department of Health received complaints from members of the public who think that the Department deals with such complaints. The Department would then refer the complainants to the proper officials who could deal with the problem. He added that the Environmental Health Practitioner normally dealt with these complaints at the local municipality.

Mr Mashile felt that this was unacceptable as every area or municipality might not have an Environmental Health Practitioner. He felt that the Act should make provision for this.

Ms Kohler-Barnard wanted to know what would happen to spaza shops that did not have adequate sewerage and drainage systems. She wanted to know if they would be forced to close down.

Mr Pretorius replied that this regulation stems from the old Health Act and that the guidelines have always existed. In certain cases, the inspectors could use their discretion in making a determination.

Mr Mashile wanted to know if amendment (nI) in Clause 4 amending Section 15 of Act 54 of 1972, included birds as they were also animals.

Mr Pretorius replied that the amendment was included to address the safety of foodstuffs. This did not refer to pets, but to animals that were meant for human consumption.

Mr Mashile said he was talking about Bird Flu. He wanted to know if the definition of animals included poultry.

Mr Pretorius apologised and said that he had heard "pets" instead of "birds".

Dr Rabinowitz wanted to know why only dairy cattle were included and not meat producing cattle.

Mr Pretorius replied that the reason was that there is a high risk of contamination associated with milk.

Ms Kohler-Barnard commented that all animals should then be declared high risk.

Mr Mashile wanted to know if amendment (nQ) did not fall under the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF). He wanted to know if the Department of Health was not creating a new standard for the quality of water in the country.

Ms Manana commented that even though the DWAF set the standards for water quality this had to be managed by the municipality.

Dr A N Luthuli (ANC) commented that the Department of Agriculture and Land Affairs dealt with some of the issues raised in the amendments.

Ms Kohler-Barnard wanted to know if the aim of this stipulation was not to control the quality of water from farm dams used in the production of food.

Mr Pretorius replied that even if food producers supplied their own water, it still had to meet certain minimum standards and requirements.

Mr Mashile commented that a new standard might be created. He said that this Act might provide for higher quality of water.

Mr Ramosella of the Department of Health replied that the Minister of Health could only make recommendations regarding health issues. She did not have the power to raise the standard requirement for the quality of water. Only the Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry could do this.

Ms Manana commented that only the DWAF could set the standards. The Minister of Health cannot set standards for water.

Ms Kohler-Barnard commented that amendment (d) meant that a microbiologist would be qualified to test food products. She wanted to know why this section allowed any medical practitioner, environmental health practitioner or veterinarian to test food quality. They could easily destroy samples that should be sent away for testing by a microbiologist.

Ms R J Mashigo (ANC) commented that microbiologists had nothing to do with this issue.

Mr Pretorius replied that this would be allowed for a different reason. The involvement of other types of practitioners would only be allowed in an emergency situation where there is no authorised person in the area to test the food. If it were discovered that the food led to illness, it would have to be destroyed.

Ms Manana wanted clarity on the phrase 'after consultation with a provincial head of department and officer in that provincial administration or local authority'.

Mr Pretorius replied that this section provided for both local and provincial government to execute their functions.

The Committee unanimously adopted the Amendment Bill.

The meeting was adjourned.

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