Hygiene standards decline at food outlets

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MCC Health Inspector Mr Thabo Mothebe
MCC Health Inspector Mr Thabo Mothebe

Limpho Sello

MOST fast food outlets in Maseru town have declined in hygienic standards, an inspection recently conducted by the Maseru City Council (MCC) and the National Health Training College has found.

MCC Health Inspector Mr Thabo Mothebe this week said they had conducted a food inspection and found that most franchises and restaurants had extremely low hygienic standards while some had even failed to renew their food handler’s certificates.

Mr Mothebe said hygiene and cleanliness were critical at all times to prevent health hazards associated with the consumption of contaminated food.

“We are very sensitive when it comes to several things that food outlets have to adhere to before handling food,” Mr Mothebe said, adding that “So during our food inspection we looked at a number of things which led us to conclude that there was a challenge of low hygienic standards in our fast food outlets and restaurants”.

Mr Mothebe said kitchens had become congested as the businesses grew and the more they became congested, the more they compromised hygienic standards. He said this could be addressed by moving to bigger premises when a fast food business expanded.

He also urged the businesses to renew their food handler’s certificates every six months.

“This remains a challenge which clearly needs to be addressed. It could be an issue of forgetting now that they are used to the job but it is very important that the certificates are renewed,” he said.

He said after identifying the challenges, they held verbal discussions with the offending businesses to point out the shortcomings and wrote letters outlining their recommendations.

He said the last resort was taking the offenders to court using the Public health order number 12 of 1970.

He said they were some instances where they forced to take immediate action like in cases where they came across the businesses washing meat at the premises as they could not allow the sale of such food to the public.

“It is very wrong to unpack food and wash it before packing it again in plastics for people to buy as though it were still fresh. This means the public could be buying rotten food which could be harmful to their health,” Mr Thabo said.

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