On Friday 2 May, Food Focus were privileged to have been invited to the Stakeholder Consultative Session for the recent Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) Deloitte and Touche study. The dti commissioned a study on the economic impact of the recent listeriosis outbreak in South Africa.
The Stakeholder Consultative Session was aimed soliciting stakeholders’ comments and inputs on the findings of the study and the interim recommendations.
The session was chaired by Nthabiseng Ngozwana, Director - Economic Research & Policy Coordination: Research Management Unit at the dti. The findings of the study were presented by Jean Baptiste Nkume, Puveshni Crozier, both of Deloitte’s and Dr Lucia Anelich of Anelich Consulting.
The invited audience included a large contingent from the dti, members from DAFF, CGCSA, Red Meat Producers, SAMPA and some industry representatives.
The regulatory framework of South Africa was reviewed by the Deloittes researchers. Interestingly their findings did not differ from the previous 4 studied by the FAO, USAID and others: Our legal framework is fragmented! Apart from telling us what we already know, the weaknesses that may have contributed to the outbreak were explored. In addition, the comparative regulatory frameworks of the USA and Belgium were reviewed. The recommendation would be to adopt a framework similar to Belgium as best practice going forward.
A detailed costing exercise was conducted to determine the real and potential costs of the Listeriosis outbreak. There was a commitment to review the approach after industry members raised concerns regarding the validity of the input cost results. Regardless, the numbers suggested indicate a significant impact on the economy. The vulnerabilities identified in the supply chains highlighted the further need for a consolidated approach to food safety in South Africa
A qualitative survey was conducted by means of a limited sample questionnaire. A dismally small number of respondents replied which is disappointing. Although I do not disagree with the results, it is definitely not a representative sample of the opinions of the South African food industry and hopefully this will be repeated and you will give your input.
An exhaustive action plan was presented to take the findings and convert these into a risk based proactive food safety control system action plan. Although the complexity to the solution to our problem is quite overwhelming, it does present the actions we need to take.
The inputs suggested from the stakeholders will hopefully be incorporated into the final version of the report. This will then be presented to the various ministries, (hopefully all will be represented at that time) and then we wait for action, or more importantly the political will to change. Let’s continue to hold thumbs?