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Authors: Agenbag, Michael. H.A 
Issue Date: 2008
Abstract: Local government (LG) is under increasing pressure from the milk industry and consumers regarding their ability and willingness to carry out their mandate with regard to the quality control of milk, especially in the informal sector. The government and the milk industry currently have programmes underway to stimulate economic activities in the informal sector, targeting emerging cattle farmers for the production of milk as part of government’s Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative of South Africa (ASGISA). These initiatives further increase the number of informal milk producers and distributors, which holds a further challenge to regulatory authorities. At the same time, the quality of milk from the informal milk-producing sector poses a serious public health concern. Most of the milk produced and sold by the informal sector is raw (unpasteurised), which does not meet the minimum statutory requirements, and the milking practices applied by the informal sector also do not comply with best practice compliance standards. Local authorities (LAs) are statutorily responsible for registering milking parlours and controlling milk hygiene quality from production stage to purchase stage in order to ensure safe and wholesome dairy products to the consumer. Therefore, LG should play an increasingly important role in ensuring that safe and wholesome milk is produced and distributed to the consumers. All metropolitan municipalities (metros) and district municipalities (DMs) should be authorised by the Ministry of Health to enforce the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act, 1972 (Act 54 of 1972) through their authorised officials – mainly environmental health practitioners (EHPs). Secondly, LG should have specific programmes, systems and resources to register, monitor, evaluate and control milk production and distribution outlets for continued compliance. The main aim of this dissertation is to determine the legal compliance of LG in controlling food hygiene in general, and the approach of municipal health services (MHS) to monitoring and controlling milk hygiene at LG level. A further aim is to determine specific the availability of resources and systems to sustain their activities in this regard. This study was conducted amongst all participating metros and DMs in South Africa, targeting specifically the municipal health service managers. In the study the legal compliance and authorisation status of metros and DMs by the Ministry of Health and their respective EHPs was determined. The estimated number of informal milk producers in each metro and DM area was determined, as was MHS’ awareness of such. The availability of certain resources and the approach of MHS towards milk hygiene quality control in general were established in order to determine the MHS’ capacity to properly monitor and control milk hygiene in the informal sector. By September 2006 the majority (69.6%) of DMs and one metro had not yet been authorised by the Ministry of Health to enforce Act 54 of 1972. Accordingly, most of the EHPs had not been authorised by their statutorily mandated metros and DMs as required by that particular Act. It was noted that a few municipalities had authorised their EHPs, though they themselves had not yet been authorised by the Ministry of Health. Old disestablished municipalities, which were not supposed to be authorised after July 2004, were nonetheless still being authorised. For an LG to allow the sale of raw milk in its area of jurisdiction, application should be made to the Ministry of Health to be listed in Annexure C of Regulation 1555 of 21 November 1997, and proof should be given of its ability to exercise sufficient control over the selling of raw milk. However, according to the actual listing of relevant authorised LAs in the government notices, only the West Coast District Municipality is listed in Annexure C, allowing the sale of raw milk in its area, as statutorily required, together with local municipalities (LMs) and disestablished municipalities that are still listed, yet should not be. There are two tools that should assist metros and DMs, as well as the Ministry of Health, to determine the relevant municipality’s capacity to deliver MHS (including food control, of which milk hygiene control forms an integral part). The first tool is the approved report of a Section 78 (S.78) assessment, which was done in accordance with Sections 76, 77 and 78 of the Municipal Systems Act, 2000 (Act 32 of 2000). The legislation makes it compulsory for metros and DMs to conduct such an assessment to determine the authority’s current and future ability to render MHS and also to identify shortcomings. At the time of the survey (January 2006) only 25% (n=7) of the respondents indicated that their municipality had completed an S.78 assessment. The second tool is to ascertain that a project for milk hygiene control in the informal milk-producing sector is part of the municipality’s Integrated Development Plan (IDP) and subsequently part of the council’s budget. Unfortunately a specific question in this regard was not asked, but the Karoo DM indicated that milk hygiene monitoring and control was part of their district municipality’s IDP. Although just over half (55.3%) of the respondents were aware of informal milkproducing sources in their respective areas of jurisdiction, only 20% were making an effort to control them. A total of 68.1% (n=32) of the respondents stated that resources were not sufficient for the effective monitoring and control of milk hygiene, while a corresponding number of respondents (n=15 [48.4%]) stated that funds and the number of EHPs were regarded as their key reasons, and 35.5% (n=11) were of the opinion that a lack of basic equipment was contributing to insufficient resources. More than half (57.4% [n=27]) of the respondents were of the opinion that MHS were not applying effective monitoring and control of milk hygiene from the production stage to the consumer. In summary, the reasons involved a lack of systems, lack of fixed programmes, lack of a standardised approach or system to capture visits to premises and sampling results, and lack of a database in terms of milking parlours and distributors. When all the inputs from the respondents with regard to their reasons for the MHS not having proper control over milk hygiene are analysed and grouped in appropriate categories, 96.8% (n=30) of the reasons are management-related issues. Although food quality control was high on the agenda of the MHS’ daily activities, 63.6% (n=28) of respondents indicated that they were taking milk samples on an ad hoc basis, whereas 22.5% (n=9) disclosed that they were conducting planned premises evaluations, and 78.8% (n=26) of respondents stated that they were carrying out their health and hygiene education on an ad hoc basis. Only 16.3% (n=7) of the respondents indicated that they were integrating their inspections and sampling. The results therefore suggest that there is no audit- and risk-based approach to evaluating the premises. This means that most of the respondents were not planning their work in advance, resulting in superficial and inefficient MHS delivery. Various authors remind us that there is little value in this kind of monitoring and control activities at food premises in order to determine the safety of foodstuffs, and the approach should rather be outcomes driven. In conclusion, it is evident that MHS do not properly manage and control milk hygiene in the informal sector due to a lack of management capacity, as well as a lack of resources, standardised programmes, systems and so forth to optimally use the available resources in order for MHS interventions to serve their purpose and to contribute towards the building of consumer trust. There is thus a need for guidance and assistance from relevant role-players such as the National Directorates of Food Control and Environmental Health, the Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG), the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), the South African Institute of Environmental Health (SAIEH), tertiary institutions, the milk industry and other interested parties, to assist metros and DMs in the development of the abovementioned LG and MHS capacity. The Ministry of Health should ensure that all metros and DMs are authorised as legally required. Municipal health service managers should ensure that milk hygiene monitoring and control, especially of the informal sector, is included in their councils’ IDPs and subsequent linked programmes to ensure the availability of the necessary resources required to properly monitor and control the informal milk-producing sector.
Description: Thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree MAGISTER TECHNOLOGIAE: ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH in the School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at the Central University of Technology, Free State
Appears in Collections:Mr. Michael H.A. Agenbag

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