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I have a weak bladder. Consequently, a journey usually requires me to visit toilet facilities, good or bad, at my destination and often along the way.
These are readily available at shopping malls and restaurants. At shops with no public toilets, people have been good about letting me use those for their staff.
Grateful as I am, this has enabled me to observe, behind the scenes, a level of hygiene which I find worrisome – especially where the staff in question handle and prepare food.
Many older shops, shopping centres and restaurants have toilets used by both customers and staff that are so old and shabby that no amount of “cleaning” can adequately achieve a satisfactory level of cleanliness or germ protection.
A lack of hot water and soap is not unusual and a soiled towel (shared) is commonplace.
In addition, the occasions on which I have seen waiters and food counter staff leaving the toilet without washing their hands are too many to recount.
Just this week, a staff member kindly allowed me to use the staff ladies’ at a branch of a large supermarket chain, as the public toilets at the small mall were at the far end of the building and would have taken a long walk.
I was led through the sparkling-clean bakery.
Once past, the area instantly changed from pristine to dilapidated.
Imagine my thoughts as I left the store, walking past the trays of tempting cakes, rolls and loaves that had been baked by the staff who use these very facilities!
I was left wondering: are there any health regulations in place in Joburg for toilet and washroom facilities?
If there are, are any inspections being undertaken and enforcement being done to upgrade those that are substandard to a reasonable state of hygiene?
Bearing in mind that there are thousands of food shops, including fast food outlets, and I have only visited a limited number of these facilities, yet with so many that fell well below basic hygienic conditions, I reckon we are sitting on a germ time bomb.