Spotlight On Food Safety in South Africa

April 9, 2018


The listeriosis epidemic has exposed the crucial need for healthcare legislation to be reviewed regularly - not only to ensure it is in line with international developments but also to prevent potential health catastrophes. By CHRISTINE BOTHA.

World Health Day - the global health awareness day initiated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) - was celebrated on 7 April. The theme for 2018 is universal health coverage, urging governments to actively pursue making access to essential quality healthcare services available to everyone. This theme is in line with the state's obligation to healthcare in terms of section 27(2) of the Constitution, to take 'reasonable legislative and other measures within its available resources' to achieve the 'progressive realisation' of the right.

Universal health coverage, according to the WHO, is not limited to ensuring access to medical care but also includes public health service campaigns. A vital element of public healthcare is food safety. South Africa is currently facing the world's largest outbreak of listeriosis, a serious food-borne disease caused by the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.

As of 26 March 2018, 982 laboratory-confirmed cases have been reported and thus far more than 180 people have died. The goal of health for all would...