“This needs to stop. They [are] selling us expired food and they are making their own cooldrink coz u find coke in a fanta bottle; fish tin but u find beans…”
That tweet‚ posted by “Bongani” on Thursday‚ covers some of the many food "crimes" foreign shopkeepers currently stand accused of‚ thanks to a series of unscientific videos circulating on social media: the selling of old‚ allegedly “rotten” food; passing off inferior fizzy drinks in Coca-Cola bottles and‚ more bizarrely‚ selling totally fake foods such as eggs which never saw the inside of a chicken.
Somalian traders have also been accused of selling two-week-old Albany bread which still looks and feels fresh‚ but which‚ according to a video demonstration‚ turned to sinister mush when soaked in water.
Health department officials have raided foreign-owned shops and confiscated goods which they broadly categorise as “counterfeit and expired” and the National Consumer Commission says it’s working on a strategy to deal with the food-related allegations.
Adding to the confusion‚ health minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s spokesman Popo Maja was quoted as saying that foodborne disease outbreaks in South Africa are typically caused by “food contaminated with bacteria‚ viruses or parasites and harmful colourants”.
“Sudan Red dye colourant is prohibited for use in foods products in South Africa.”
Professor Gunnar Sigge‚ head of Stellenbosch University’s food science department‚ said foodborne disease outbreaks were not caused by harmful colourants. “That would take years to manifest in some cases and would be a poisoning‚ not a disease‚” he said.