Harare amends food hygiene by-law

HARARE - Harare City Council (HCC) is proposing amending the food hygiene by-law to include a clause on how food handlers operate and will be regulated.

According to environmental committee minutes, the by-law had skipped food handlers and only concentrated on the premises.

In the minutes, council noted that the old by-law was half-baked because of the gaps that affected enforcement.

“The principal by-laws were mainly biased towards the hygiene of food premises yet no provision was devoted towards regulating the hygienic standards of the actual food handlers.

Furthermore, the principal by-laws had no provision on offences and penalties making it virtually impossible to enforce the by-laws,” read the minutes.

“In terms of section 6, it would introduce the aspect of a health certificate which food handlers would be required to apply for before operating a food premises.

“The section would also introduce another new section which deals with the revocation of a health certificate in cases whereby a certificate holder has failed to comply with the mandatory provisions of this by-law.”

They also stated that there would be a section on penalties and offences which was silent in the outdated council law.

The proposed amendments also include how food handlers are supposed to operate to avoid vermin and the spread of diseases.

“Section 7 provided the standards and requirements for protective clothing.

“Protective clothing included head covering and foot wear. The section also introduced a new clause on duties of a person in charge of food premises.

“Person in charge of a food premises was now charged with the duty to ensure that flies, insects and rodents were eliminated from the food premises.

“They also had to ensure that bins were emptied regularly,” read the minutes.            

According to HCC spokesperson Michael Chideme, the proposed by-law would work in conjunction with the city’s meat by-law which criminalises vending of raw meat by unlicensed individuals.

In 2015, the meat vending by-law outlawed the sale of uncooked meat, with guilty persons liable to spend one year in prison or a fine.

The meat vending by-law also indicated that livestock should be slaughtered at a council-approved abattoir and game meat would only be sold by HCC licenced persons.

“In terms of section 4 no person would be allowed to keep, sell or supply any fresh butchers meat in the butcher’s shop, food premises or vehicle unless the butcher’s meat had been inspected and certified fit for human consumption by a meat inspector employed by the State or local authority,” read the by-law.

The by-law also provides for game meat to only be transported by specifically designed vehicles that are approved by a health medical officer.