eThekwini Municipality is conducting ongoing multi-department food blitz operations in and around Durban to address the surge in unregulated spaza or informal shops that have given rise to concerns over food safety.
Municipal spokesperson Gugu Sisilana said that the presence of counterfeit, expired and contaminated food products within these establishments needed looking into.
“The City is actively developing a strategy to intensively monitor ‘tuck shops’ within its jurisdiction,” she added.
Sisilana said that since September, operations were carried out in various areas, including Clare Estate, Clermont, Inanda, Phoenix, Folweni and the CBD.
In a recent blitz, metro police, working together with the Environmental Health Department, the SAPS, Vector control and the By-law Unit, extended the enforcement operation to Pinetown.
Sisilana said that during the inspection 12 informal traders were charged, three businesses were found operating without business licences, and undocumented foreign nationals would be processed by law enforcement.
She added that operations had been sharply heightened in CBDs, shopping malls, taxi ranks, tuck shops (without singling out foreign nationals) and popular food establishments.
The primary goal was to guarantee that the premises conform to required food safety and hygiene standards, she said.
“To date, no shops have been closed, but fines and notices have been issued to address non-compliance. Failure to adhere to these will eventually lead to closure of such establishments,” Sisilana said.
She said the City’s environmental health unit is currently finalising a comprehensive plan to address the concerns around food safety.
She further explained that the Environmental Health Department takes responsibility for ensuring food safety by actively overseeing compliance and enforcing regulations.
“This involves strategically conducting surprise food safety inspections, known as ‘food blitzes’ throughout the city,” she said.
Metro Police spokesperson Colonel Boysie Zungu said operations will continue throughout the festive season.
“We are pleased with the gains made by our men and women in blue. The operations are a start towards ensuring health and safety compliance among both formal and informal businesses,” said Zungu.
Zungu said more operations are planned, using the same multi-departmental approach adding that they will continue to increase police visibility throughout the City.
“The City is well on its way to establishing itself in terms of the growing tourism sector and a fully rotational economy.
Crime has no space as we work towards this goal.” We are working hard to ensure an enjoyable and safe festive season for residents and visitors,” said Zungu.
The City said it remains committed to working hard to ensure the safety and well-being of its residents.