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Third of SA food harmful, misleading

Oct 22 2010 22:10 Sapa

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Cape Town - There should be an investigation into the high number of food samples failing safety tests, the Democratic Alliance said on Friday.

"The high number of food samples that failed safety tests by the Forensic Chemistry Laboratories suggests that there are major problems with quality control over food in South Africa," DA spokesperson on health Mike Waters said in a statement.

"The DA will be writing to the minister of health to ask what steps he is taking to investigate this problem and ensure that South Africans are better protected from harmful products or misleading claims."

The food division of the Forensic Chemistry Laboratory was responsible for testing random food samples to ensure that they complied with the Foodstuff, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, Waters said.

"In reply to a DA parliamentary question, the minister of health recently revealed an alarmingly high number of these samples failed.

"Overall, 33.6% of food samples taken this year did not comply with the act (compared to 29.3% last year), and a range of other products that South Africans consume every day failed."

According to Waters in 2009 to 2010, 34.8% of chips failed, 10.6% of meat tested, 25.9% of drinks and 12.5% of the dairy tested.

In the same period 66.6% of the fortified food tested failed.

"The reasons that the products could have failed vary, from ones that could have serious implications for health (such as a product being contaminated with a toxin or being decayed), to ones that are not necessarily harmful but amount to deception on the part of the seller or manufacturer," said Waters.

Waters said the figure for fortified foods was "particularly alarming".

"Whatever the reasons for the failures, it is clear that a large number of products are being sold to the public on the basis of false claims.

"The extent of this problem clearly warrants a thorough investigation."

Health department spokesperson Charity Bhengu could not immediately be reached for comment.

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