There are simply not enough inspectors to check on the food being sold by spaza shops in parts of Gauteng.
That was the message conveyed to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) on Wednesday as it held a two-day inquiry into claims that foreign national shop owners were selling counterfeit or expired food.
A panel of different stakeholders will seek to unpack what prompted recent attacks on several shop owners.
Jerry Chaka from the city of Ekurhuleni said samples of questionable food‚ confiscated during an inspection in the Tembisa area a week ago‚ had been sent to the National Health Laboratory Services.
“We were able to pick up cold drinks of a different colour than others and were able to obtain them‚ carry out sample testing… We are still waiting for results of tests‚” said Chaka.
It takes about three to four weeks to get test results.
He said they had 112 staff members for a population of two million and that 320 health inspectors would be needed to “accommodate the population”.
Currently there were more than 100 environmental health inspectors deployed to investigate whether spaza shops were meeting regulatory standards‚ said Chaka.
“A number of spaza shops did not comply. [Since last week] we assessed slightly over 300 spaza shops and the majority of those do not have zoning rights.
“All the food premises must be inspected minimally on a quarterly basis. Where there are high risks in food safety‚ you would have to increase frequency‚” he added.
Those that were found to be non-compliant were given 21 days to comply.