Category: <span>Environmental Health</span>

14 October 2022 Media Release: Health Education Committee invited to witness youth who dance with ‘change in mind’

Media Release: Health Education Committee invited to witness youth who dance with ‘change in mind’

For Immediate Release
14 October 2022

A small group of youngsters known as the ‘Spiritual Dance Group’ from the Kwanokutula community in Riversdale, Hessequa, last week performed various dance routines choreographed by Rebecca Johnson, Suikerbossie Soup Kitchen. Rebecca invited the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) Health Education Committee to witness several of their performances. The theme of their dance routines revolved around illegal dumping, hand washing, looking after your environment and self-love.

The GRDM Health Education Committee, which consists of Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP), was recently established and exists for the following reasons: 

  • municipal health education needs of the community are addressed by improving the GRDM municipal health education;
  • standardise and streamline GRDM municipal health education materials; and
  • increase public awareness pertaining to the nine key performance areas of Municipal Health Services.

EHPs have a statutory obligation to ensure that everyone lives in an environment that is not harmful to his or her health and well-being according to Section 24 of the Constitution of South Africa.

PERFORMANCE BY DANCE GROUP

Upon arrival at the old Kwanokutula sports field, EHPs were met by a group of kids between the ages of five (5) and 15. Parents, in full support of the initiative, were present as they cheered the kids who performed with precision. EHPs also joined the various groups when they danced alongside the kids in support of the initiative.

According to the Chairperson of the Health and Education Committee, Jessica Erasmus: “It is not often you find a passionate young group of children pouring their hearts out in dance and especially a dance to promote a cleaner environment, amongst others. With young children taking a stance like this, we need to show our support for them as young ambassadors for the community. We will continue to support initiatives like these and hope to have more youthful groups cross our paths to fight for a cleaner environment together and to eradicate illegal dumping as a team.”

THE STORY BEHIND REBECCA’S INSPIRATION

When asked how she came up with the idea, Rebecca said: “At the nearby bus stop with a few of my friends, Hannelie Claassen, Claradene Blaauw, Juanita Jafta and Ronica Maans, we saw bullying taking place and then decided to stand by the children to ensure it didn’t happen again. What happened in the past was that whenever a bus arrived, the older kids would push the younger ones to the back. There’s a system in place now that allows the shortest kids to stand in front while the taller kids stand in the back. After we resolved that issue, I thought about some fun, activities for kids to build relations. It’s easy for kids to get involved in the wrong things when they’re bored, which is why I recruited them for spiritual dance classes.”

MORE ABOUT REBECCA AND HER FAMILY

Rebecca has lived in Kwanokutula for 12 years. She used to be a Sunday school teacher and started a soup kitchen about four months ago. She is a mother of a 23-year-old son, 14- and 12-year-old daughters, and a 27-year-old daughter with one child. With her passion for kids, she’s also adopting six and eight-year-olds from a neighbourhood where parents struggle with substance abuse. “I want my house to become a permanent home for them,” said Rebecca.

VOORSTELLE VIR ‘N SKOON OMGEWING

Volgens Raadslid Betsie van Noordwyk van Tuinroete Distriksmunisipaliteit wat woon in die Hessequa-streek, is daar al pogings aangewend om Kwanokutula skoon te maak, maar onwettige storting gaan voort. “Ek het self al vir ure rommel opgetel, maar die volgende dag het dit weer dieselfde gelyk”. Rdl. Van Noordwyk moedig die publiek aan om ten alle tye op ‘n verantwoordelike manier op te tree. “Die impak van onwettige storting kan tot baie ernstige implikasies lei”.

“Onwettige storting lok, onder andere, muise en rotte wat siektes aan mense kan versprei. Siektes sluit in die Hantavirus Pulmonêre Sindroom, Leptospirose, Rat-bytkoors, Salmonellose, Tularemia and Limfositiese Chorio-mengitis,” het Rdl van Noordwyk gesê.

Onwettige storting moet aangemeld word by plaaslike munisipaliteite.

ENDS

6 October 2022 Media Release: Environmental Health Practitioners educate communities in celebration of World Environmental Health Day

Media Release: Environmental Health Practitioners educate communities in celebration of World Environmental Health Day

For immediate release
6 October 2022

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted by the United Nations as a worldwide call-to-action, to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that by 2030 all people enjoy peace and prosperity now and in the future. Environmental Health plays an essential role in the implementation of these SDGs.

As World Environmental Health Day was celebrated on 26 September 2022, Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP) from Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) also contributed to this world-wide initiative and rolled out awareness and education campaigns in the Mossel Bay, Klein Karoo and Bitou areas. This year’s theme was “Strengthening Environmental Health Systems for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals”.

Mossel Bay

EHPs from the GRDM Municipal Health office in Mossel Bay, embarked on a campaign to educate the community of Mossel Bay about environmental health issues that could affect their health and overall well-being.

FLTR: Environmental Health Practitioners David Malok (left), Carin Olwagen (Registered Psychological Counsellor, Department of Health – second, left), Monique Anthony (middle), Anelisa Fizani (second, right) and Neo-lay Britz (right) at a clinic in Mossel Bay.

The team informed communities on why and where to report health violations and what individuals can do to minimise risks relating to their health. To demonstrate these risks, a short video clip was played at the D’Almeida and Asla Clinics in the area with the help of Carin Olwagen, a registered Psychological Counsellor at the D’Almeida Clinic.

While the team distributed pamphlets in the area as part of the campaign activities, they also explained the purpose of the Environmental Health function to community members.

In closing, containers were placed at both clinics, to allow the public to insert and report any complaints in relation to health violations. Complainants also have the option to do this anonymously. Over two hundred (200) pamphlets were distributed during the campaign.

Bridgton, Oudtshoorn

GRDM Environmental Health Practitioner, Willie Plaatjies, in discussion with a resident of the Klein Karoo area, during the door-to-door campaign.

The EHPs from the GRDM’s Municipal Health office in Oudtshoorn, collaborated with the Environmental Officer and Cleansing Services section of the Greater Oudtshoorn Municipality to roll out a clean-up and awareness activity regarding illegal waste dumping in Oudtshoorn. The programme was rolled out to ensure clean and hygienic conditions in the community of Old-Bridgton.

The clean-up operation was done by Oudtshoorn Municipality’s Cleansing Services section and the activities involved the collection of illegally dumped waste, sweeping streets in the neighbourhood, as well as the transport and disposal of waste at the Grootkop waste landfill site. A health awareness and education campaign was essential to ensure sustainability during this waste clean-up project. EHPs from the GRDM’s Oudtshoorn office conducted door-to-door education and awareness in the illegal dumping hotspot areas to inform the public of the health risks posed by illegal waste sites in the community.

Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) participants, appointed by the local municipality, are trained by EHPs as peer educators and were utilised to assist them with door-to-door awareness and education activities.

The team further collaborated with different community stakeholders and role-players (e.g. church leaders) and the local municipality to develop appropriate health education material and different methodologies e.g. pamphlets, posters, fridge magnets etc. to conduct health and hygiene awareness and education.

The discussions of the campaign included the following:

  • Health risks of illegal dump sites which attract vectors like mice, rats, flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches etc. This in turn, spreads communicable diseases such as encephalitis, dengue fever, leptospirosis etc. Furthermore, toxic releases from illegal dumpsites lead to respiratory illnesses such as asthma. Children sometimes play at the sites and step on broken glass, nails and sharp  objects – in some cases this can be fatal.
  • The correct way to manage waste in black bags, rubbish bins or skips for garden waste.
  • Where illegal dumping can be reported at the local municipality.
  • Waste removal arrangements on public holidays.

Through this initiative 140 households were reached.

An open space that was previously used as a dumping site is now planned to be used by the community as netball and cricket fields.

To measure the success of this initiative, monitoring and evaluation of areas will be done by the GRDM team, to determine the impact of the campaign performed by the EHPs and EPWP workers.

Bitou

Bitou’s EHPs  visited the Kranshoek Primary School to inform learners and educators on what Environmental Health function entails (Scope of Practise).  The team also explained all the nine (9) Municipal Health key performance areas in detail.

GRDM’s Environmental Health Practitioner, Nokuphiwa Mbali, demonstrating proper hand wash techniques to the learners during the session.

In addition, they conducted and presented a hand-wash activity to the learners and explained to them what the proper techniques of washing hands are and the importance of clean hands for ones health. All learners showed their eagerness and enjoyed the activities during the session. The principal extended a word of gratitude to the team and thanked them for their role in educating the communities of the Kranshoek area.

Did you know?

Municipal Health Services is defined in the National Health Act, 2003 include the following Key Performance Areas: Water Quality Monitoring, Food Control, Solid Waste Management, Health Surveillance of Premises, Supervision and Prevention of Contagious Diseases (excluding Immunization), Vector Control, Environmental Pollution Control, the Disposal of Human Remains and the Safe handling of Chemical Substances. (This excludes port health, malaria control and control of hazardous substances. The above-mentioned aspects are mentioned in the Scope of Environmental Health Practitioners).

Environmental Health Practitioners have a statutory obligation to protect the health of the present and the future generations as enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

ENDS

World Environmental Health Day Webinar on 26 September 2022

World Environmental Health Day 2022

Theme: Strengthening Environmental Health Systems for the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals

“Placing Environmental Health at the Heart of Human Health”

Monday, 26 September 2022
8.30 – 16.00
REGISTER FOR THE ZOOM WEBINAR

The National Department of Health invites you to attend a webinar on World Environmental Health Day – Strengthening Environmental Health Systems for the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The objectives are:

  • To strengthen efforts and cooperation on the implementation of SDGs.
  • To capacitate Environmental Health Practitioners on the execution of their functions related to SDGs.
  • Share good / best Environmental Health practices on global recovery.

Please see programme below.
Programme WEHD

CPD points will be awarded for the attendance of the webinar. Once you have registered, you will receive a confirmation email with details on how to join the webinar. Register here for the webinar.

13 September 2022 Media Release: Environmental Health Practitioners monitor river water quality

Media Release: Environmental Health Practitioners monitor river water quality

For Immediate Release
13 September 2022

Managing and protecting river systems are of utmost importance. Agricultural and land management practices, wastewater works maintenance, wetlands protection, and invasive alien plant control and eradication all play a role in the health of river systems.

“The Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) is the official Water Quality Monitoring Authority of the Garden Route region. Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP) take water samples on a monthly basis to ensure that water intended for human consumption, recreation or use by industries is safe and complies with specific standards,” said Johan Compion, GRDM Manager for Municipal Health Services.

The term water quality describes the physical, chemical, biological and aesthetic properties of water, which determine its suitability for a variety of uses and for protecting the health and integrity of aquatic ecosystems.”

Compion says the river water sampling and monitoring programme of the GRDM strives to provide accurate and consistent information. He added, “Sampling results assist to determine the main sources of pollution and to introduce specific interventions aimed at addressing these identified sources of pollution”.

The water quality monitoring function rendered by the EHPs of GRDM includes the following:

  • Monitoring of quality and availability of water intended for human consumption, recreation or use by industries;
  • Regular taking of water samples for analysis;
  • Identification and control of sources of water pollution;
  • Protection of water sources and resources by enforcement of legislation relating to the water quality;
  • Taking of samples for wastewater quality compliance;
  • Enforcement of legislation to ensure a supply of water safe for health (Water Services Act, 1977), Act No 108 of 1997) and South African National Standards (SANS Code 241).
  • Introduction of corrective and preventative actions (e.g., making recommendations to relevant authorities);
  • Implementation of health and hygiene awareness actions and education relating to the water supply.

Whenever risks can compromise safe drinking water in communities, the GRDM takes a preventative approach.

Sampling results serve to evaluate the suitability of the water of the various rivers for irrigation, livestock watering, recreational and domestic purposes and according to the following standards/ guidelines:

  • Wastewater limit values applicable to the discharge of wastewater into a water source in terms of the National Water Act, Act No. 36 of 1998.
  • South African Water Quality Guidelines: Agricultural use – Irrigation
  • South African Water Quality Guidelines: Agricultural use-Livestock Watering
  • South African Water Quality Guidelines: Recreational Use
  • SANS code 241 for drinking water

Typical water types that are monitored, sampled and analysed include, but are not limited to drinking water, rivers, dams, treated sewage effluent, recreational waters and industrial effluent. Rivers, which receive final effluent from Waste Water Treatment Works (WWTW), are of higher risk to human health, and water- and environmental pollution. EHPs inspect WWTW, and do water sampling to ensure that the final effluents are safe to discard in rivers and the environment as per specific WWTW permit requirements.

The applicable legislation is enforced by EHPs and is stipulated in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996, the Water Services Act, no 108 of 1997, the National Water Act no. 36 of 1998 and the National Health Act no. 61 of 2003.

The GRDM with an area of 23 331km² is a Category-C Municipality and comprises seven local municipalities: George, Mossel Bay, Knysna, Bitou, Oudtshoorn, Hessequa and Kannaland.

Criteria used to determine high-risk and low-risk rivers, include:

Rivers that receive final effluent from Waste Water Treatment Works, are regarded as high risk to human health.

The rivers in the GRDM region where EHPs take water samples monthly include the following:

A. HIGH RISK
A) Ruiterbos Paardekop River
B) Heidelberg Duiwenhoks River
C) Riversdale Goukou River
D) Oudtshoorn Olifants River
E) George Gwauiing River, Schaapkop River, Molen River
F) Mossel Bay Hartenbos River
G) Plettenberg Bay Ganzevlei
H) Kurland / Plettenberg Bay Sout River
I) Zoar and Ladismith Nels River
B. LOW RISK
A) Oudtshoorn Grobbelaars River
B) Mossel Bay Klein Brak
C) Knysna Salt River and Bongani
D) Plettenberg Bay Piesang-, Keurbooms-, and Ganzevlei River
E) Plettenberg Bay Touw and Kaaimans River
F) George Garden Route Dam
G) Mossel Bay Kleinbrak and Grootbrak Rivers

All relevant role-players, municipalities and state departments must be involved in serious cases of river pollution. Where necessary EHPs advise water users on appropriate treatment options in accordance with the usage of the water and the specific determinants (total Coliforms, E-Coli and Faecal Coli organisms) not complying with relevant standards or guidelines. The “polluter pays” principle is applicable in cases of continuous pollution of water resources. EHPs report non-compliance to water services authorities and institutions to implement rectification measures in cases of unsafe and unhealthy conditions and health hazards.

What is the difference between a Water Services Authority and the GRDM Municipal Health Services?

Collaboration between local municipalities, the Department of Water Affairs, the Department of Environmental Affairs, other government departments and private entities, as well as all relevant role-players, will ensure that short-, medium- and long-term goals are reached, to ensure clean and healthy river systems.

A Water Services Authority (WSA) is any district municipality or metropolitan or local municipality that is responsible for providing water services to end users. A water services authority may either provide water services itself (an internal mechanism) or contract a water services provider to provide water services (an external mechanism).

Municipal Health Services is a function of District Municipalities, and the EHPs perform water quality monitoring as part of their municipal health functions, which include the following:

  • Monitoring of water reticulation systems
  • Monitoring of quality and availability of water intended for human consumption, recreation or use by industries
  • Regular taking of water samples for analysis
  • Identification and control of sources of water pollution
  • Protection of water sources and resources by enforcement of legislation relating to the water quality
  • Enforcement of legislation to ensure a supply of water safe for health (Water Services Act, 1977 Act No 108 of 1997) and SANS Code 241
  • Introduction of corrective and preventative actions (e.g. making recommendations to relevant authorities)
  • Implementation of health and hygiene awareness actions and education relating to the water supply.

For any further information, please contact us at the respective regional offices within the Garden Route District Municipality:

Klein Karoo Region

Mr. Desmond Paulse
Tel: +27(0)44 272 2241
Cell: +27(0)83 678 6530
Address: 94 St John Street, Oudtshoorn

Mossel Bay

Mr. Sam Bendle
Tel:  +27(0)44 693 0006
Cell: +27(0)83 630 6108
Address C/O Sampson & Marling Street, Ext 23, Mossel Bay.

George Outeniqua

Ms. Emmy Douglas
Tel: +27(0)44 803 1501
Cell: +27(0)78 457 2824
Address: Mission Street, Industrial Area, George, 6530

George Wilderness

Mr. Pieter Raath
Tel: +27(0)44 803 1501
Cell: +27(0)83 644 8858
Address: Mission Street, Industrial Area, George

Knysna Region

Mr. James McCarthy
Tel: +27(0)44 382 7214
Cell: +27(0)82 805 9417
Address: 26A Queen Street, Knysna

Bitou Region

Mr. Gawie Vos
Tel: +27(0)44 501 1600
Cell: +27(0)83 557 1522
Address: 7 Gibb Street, Plettenberg Bay

Hessequa Region

Mr. Haemish Herwels
Tel: +27(0)28 713 2438
Cell: +27(0)83 678 6545
Address: 23 Michell Street, Riversdale, 6670

Mr. Johan Compion
Manager: Municipal Health & Environmental Services
Cell: +27(0)82 803 5161
E-mail: info@gardenroute.gov.za

Switchboard: 044 803 1300

Feature image: Sample taken of water by an EHP.

ENDS

27 August 2022 Media Release: The GRDM salutes a true public servant

Media Release:  The GRDM salutes a true public servant

For immediate release
27 August 2022

The Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) announces with great sadness the passing of Georg Hendriksz on 23 August 2022. He was a beloved, hardworking and dedicated colleague who started his career at the then Klein Karoo Divisional Council in Oudtshoorn in 1984.

The 63-year-old Georg Hendriksz worked for the GRDM Municipal Health Services in Oudtshoorn for 39 years as an Environmental Health Practitioner.

As a true servant of the public, Hendriksz is remembered by his colleagues as a humble individual who made a significant impact on the lives of many people. “We will forever be grateful for the work he did at the GRDM’s Municipal Health Section. As colleagues, we will truly miss him. ‘May his soul rest in peace,’ said his long-time colleague Desmond Paulse.

26 July 2022 Media Release: Garden Route District Municipality’s role in managing of human remains

Media Release: Garden Route DM’s role in managing of human remains

For Immediate Release
25 July 2022

The disposal of the dead, also known as the management of human remains, is one of the nine municipal health functions performed by Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) assigned to local governments under the National Health Act 2003 (Act no. 61 of 2003).

According to the National Health Act, handling of human remains, transportation, and funeral undertakers’ facilities must all be inspected and monitored at least twice a year. However, ongoing monitoring is also required. Environmental health inspections include identifying, monitoring, and assessing health risks, nuisances, and hazards at funeral homes. Where necessary, corrective and preventative actions are implemented.

The main functions of EHPs in the management of human remains is as follows:

  • EHPs ensure that funeral homes are operating under current certificates. Upon confirmation that the facility complies with environmental health regulations, a certificate of competency is issued.
  • EHPs further ensure that handling, collection, storage, and disposal of waste, including health care risk waste, comply with SANS 10248, Norms and Standards for waste management.
  • Conduct risk assessment to identify potential health hazards from the preparation and storage of human remains.
  • Provide health education and awareness on proper hygiene practices as well as water and sanitation practices.
  • Ensures that the funeral undertaker premises have a pest control plan and that pest control services are performed at least once a month.
  • In case of non-compliant after an inspection, the relevant EHP will liaise with the owner of the funeral undertaker.
  • After each inspection, the EHPs ensure that the inspection report indicates the condition of the premises and relevant health recommendations are provided to the owner or person in charge.
  • EHPs ensure that a database of all premises in their area used for handling, preparing, and storing human remains is maintained.
  • EHPs must ensure that all facilities and equipment used in connection with the handling, preparation, storage, preservation, and transportation of human remains adhere to the regulation relating to the management of human remains, in accordance with National Health Act 61 of 2003.

For any further information, please contact us at the respective regional offices within the Garden Route District Municipality:

Klein Karoo Region

Mr. Desmond Paulse

Tel: +27(0)44 272 2241

Cell: +27(0)83 678 6530

Address: 94 St John Street, Oudtshoorn

Kanaland Region

Mr. George Hendriksz

Tel: +27(0)44 272 2241

Cell: +27(0)82 907 3492

Address: 15 Regent Street, Oudtshoorn

Mossel Bay

Mr. Sam Bendle

Tel:  +27(0)44 693 0006

Cell: +27(0)83 630 6108

Address C/O Sampson & Marling Street, Ext 23, Mossel Bay.

George Outeniqua

Ms. Emmy Douglas

Tel: +27(0)44 803 1501

Cell: +27(0)78 457 2824

Address: Mission Street, Industrial Area, George, 6530

George Wilderness

Mr. Pieter Raath

Tel: +27(0)44 803 1501

Cell: +27(0)83 644 8858

Address: Mission Street, Industrial Area, George

Knysna Region

Mr. James McCarthy

Tel: +27(0)44 382 7214

Cell: +27(0)82 805 9417

Address: 26A Queen Street, Knysna

Bitou Region

Mr. Gawie Vos

Tel: +27(0)44 501 1600

Cell: +27(0)83 557 1522

Address: 7 Gibb Street, Plettenberg Bay

Hessequa Region

Mr. Haemish Herwels

Tel: +27(0)28 713 2438

Cell: +27(0)83 678 6545

Address: 23 Michell Street, Riversdale, 6670

 

Mr. Johan Compion

Manager: Municipal Health & Environmental Services

Cell: +27(0)82 803 5161

E-mail: info@gardenroute.gov.za

Tel: 044 803 1300

 

13 July 2022 Media Release: GRDM Environmental Health Practitioners annually ensures Knysna Oyster Festival safe

Media Release: GRDM Environmental Health Practitioners annually ensures Knysna Oyster Festival safe

For immediate release
13 July 2022

Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) of the Garden Route District Municipality (GRDM) fulfils their mandatory duties by ensuring that hygiene standards at all festivals are maintained.  The recent Knysna Oyster Festival is one of many examples where EHPs worked diligently to ensure quality health standards were maintained.

Role and interventions during the festival

EHPs from the GRDM Knysna office prepared for the Knysna Oyster Festival well in advance.  They had to plan, and implement mitigating and monitoring activities for the entire festival. This already started days before the festival commenced and concluded after the festival officially ended.

Food control

  • All informal food premises were inspected before and during the festival, including daily inspections at Oyster Festival “Hot spots”;
  • Inspections were also conducted at various locations in town where thousands of oysters were kept under prescribed conditions;
  • Several batches of oyster samples were dispatched to the Merieux NutriSciences Laboratory in Cape Town for bacteriological analysis, prior to the start of the festival, to establish the status of the holding tank water, as well as the bacteriological oyster quality. This lab requested EHPs from the Garden Route District assist with the surveillance of oysters procured from other areas within the Southern Cape; and
  • The drinking water to be provided to the athletes participating in the Forest Marathon was analysed to ensure compliance with the Bottled Water Regulations: “Regulation 692 of 1997, promulgated under the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectant Act (Act 54 of 1972)”.

Water quality monitoring

Bacteriological water monitoring of the Knysna Estuary was conducted by sampling water at 14 sites in and around the estuary.

Health surveillance of premises

Regular inspections and health surveillance of premises of all related public amenities was undertaken during the Festival, including:

  • Public toilet facilities;
  • Accommodation establishments;
  • Cycle race registration;
  • Marathon;
  • Food markets; and
  • Tobacco control at premises.

Communicable disease outbreak

The local EHPs and relevant medical health care providers have established a strict protocol for reporting communicable disease outbreaks. Hospitals, general practitioners, and pharmacies, both private and provincial, were included.

After the festival, the EHPs participated in debriefing sessions to discuss the best practices and challenges identified.

For any further information, please contact GRDM Lakes (Knysna) Region Municipal Health Services:

Mr James McCarty

Chief:  Municipal Health Lakes (Knysna)

Tel: 044 382 7214

Cell: 082 805 9417

Address: 26A Queen Street, Knysna

 

 Mr. Johan Compion

Manager: Municipal Health & Environmental Services

E-mail: johan@gardenroute.gov.za

Tel: 044 803 1300

Featured image:  Picture taken during an oyster competition at Taste of Knysna.

30 June 2022 Media Release: Food safety during load shedding

Media Release: Food safety during load shedding

For Immediate Release
30 June 2022

Load shedding occurs often in South Africa. Other countries in the northern parts of Africa and the Middle East, also experience power outages on an average of 23.5 times a month which lasts on average 9.4 hours at a time. South-East Asia is hit with an average of 17 power outages a month, lasting over an hour each time.

These outages have a direct impact on food safety. Three (3) factors are at play here – the length of the outage, its frequency of it and where food is stored.

One key fact to remember is: As long as it is cold, food should be safe.

Food in a refrigerator may be safe as long as:

  • Power outages do not last longer than four hours
  • the fridge door is closed
  • the temperature of the refrigerator was at 4 °C when load shedding started.

Food safety issues including spoiling are especially likely to occur with perishable goods such as fresh meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, and leftover food (depending on how long they were stored before load shedding started). The recommended temperature for the fridge to operate at, for food to remain safe to consume, is 4°C. It is therefore a better option to discard perishable food stored in a fridge that operates at a temperature higher than 4°C, especially when load shedding took place for two (2) or more hours.

Different bacteria grow at various temperatures. For every 1°C increase above that minimum growth temperature, the bacteria growth rate will double (depending on the type, living environment and access to nutrients).  It is therefore essential to keep the door closed to ensure that the refrigerator stays as cold as possible during a power outage

If a freezer door is kept closed, frozen food will stay frozen for up to 48 hours. Perishable food must be cooked as soon as possible if they begin to defrost. Refreezing perishable food is dangerous.

Given the price of food, one is hesitant to discard it, but weighed against the risks of consuming unsafe food – it is best to discard it. Some perishables might not necessarily smell or taste much different but may be filled with bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses.

If one knows the load-shedding schedule, one can prepare for it as follows:

  • Ensure that the temperature in the refrigerator is 4 °C or as near to it as possible.
  • Frozen leftovers, milk, fresh meat and poultry, fish, and other goods should be moved from the fridge to the freezer that you might not need right away.
  • Buy fresh food in smaller quantities, prepare it fast, and enjoy it instead of buying it in bulk and storing it in the fridge.
  • Take special note of purchasing long-lasting items, such as unopened canned foods and sterile or ultra-heat heated temperature drinks. These have a lengthy shelf-life outside of the fridge, however, once they’re opened, they too need to be chilled.
  • Another method used to keep perishable goods as cold as possible for as long as possible is to place ice packs around the items in the fridge.

ENDS

17 June 2022 Media Release: World Day to combat desertification and drought: Blossom’s Emergency Pipeline Project

Media Release: World Day to combat desertification and drought: Blossom’s Emergency Pipeline Project

For Immediate Release
17 June 2022

The Greater Oudtshoorn region continues to be plagued by ongoing droughts, and alternatives have had to be found to ensure water security for the region. Since 2018, the water supply from the Raubenheimer dam was under severe pressure as the amount of water available from the dam, exceeded the amount that could be relied upon with a 98% degree of assurance. The future and ongoing supply of water in the Oudtshoorn area is severely constrained and drastic measures had to be planned to address the situation urgently.

Furthermore, the Vermaaks Rriver boreholes near Dysseldorp are used to maximum capacity and the Huis River, which supplies De Rust with water, is unreliable during the summer months, which holds negative implications for the Klein Karoo Rural Water Supply System (KKRWSS).

The Blossom’s Emergency Pipeline is a project that was started in 2001 to investigate and develop alternative and additional water supplies for the Oudtshoorn area. Nine deep, and three monitoring boreholes were drilled in the Blossom’s wellfield, which were monitored and tested for 13 years. The test was completed in 2014, and it was concluded that the boreholes yield enough groundwater to supplement the water supply from the Raubenheimer Dam. It was determined that 60l/s (5Ml/day) can be supplied from 5 existing boreholes within the C1 Blossoms wellfield. The test also found that the impact on the environment would be minimal.

The Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) approved a license for the total yield of 8 million m3/a for the ultimate full development of the Blossoms wellfield and gave the nod for the construction to commence. Originally, the project was intended as a medium to long-term bulk water augmentation intervention but given the current water crisis in the Oudtshoorn area, it will be implemented soon.

Funding for the current phases of the project, which started in February 2022, comes from the Municipal Disaster Relief Grant, which allocated a total of R47 million. To date, more than R150 million was spent, which was co-funded by DWS and Oudtshoorn Local Municipality. The current phase of the project is expected to be completed by March 2023.

ends

 

1 June 2022 Media Release: Environmental Health Practitioners focus on restaurants about safe food handling

Media Release: Environmental Health Practitioners focus on restaurants about safe food handling

For Immediate Release
1 June 2022

Five (5) keys to safer food training is a key focus area for Garden Route District Municipality’s Environmental Health Practitioners (EHP) to educate the public about. EHPs focus mainly on formal and informal food traders about food safety. Recently, the Mossel Bay EHP team visited food handlers and management of Delfinos, Piza ē Vino, Kingfisher, Big Blu, Patricks and Kaai 4 for exactly this.

Neo-Lay Britz, an EHP from the Mossel Bay sub-office, explained: “Safe food handling is of utmost importance to ensure that quality food is sold to the public. Dangerous bacteria can contaminate food and cause food poisoning if the five keys to safer food are not adhered to”.

The GRDM EHPs, in their educational sessions, focus on the following 5 keys: keeping clean, the importance of separating raw and cooked food, cooking thoroughly, keeping food at safe temperatures; and using safe water and raw materials.

Here are the details of all the keys and their respective tips:

KEEP CLEAN

  • Hands should be washed before and during the food preparation process.
  • Premises should be kept clean, which includes the equipment used, in order to ensure that pests such as cockroaches, mice and rats do not gain access due to the availability of food (food spills, refuse bins and dirty dishes).

SEPARATE RAW AND COOKED FOOD

  • Use separate equipment and utensils for the different types of raw and cooked food.
  • Raw and cooked food should be stored in separate containers.

COOK THOROUGHLY

  • Proper cooking kills most dangerous bacteria, studies have shown that cooking food up to a temperature of 70˚C can help ensure food is safe for consumption.

KEEP FOOD AT SAFE TEMPERATURES

  • Bacteria can multiply very quickly if food is stored/ kept at room temperature, it should either be kept below 5˚C or above 60˚.
  • Food products should be defrosted/ thawed at the correct temperature and not be kept on the table in the hot kitchen during the course of the day.

USE SAFE WATER AND RAW MATERIALS

  • Safe water and raw materials such as fruit and vegetables should be used.
  • Only meat bought from an approved butchery/ abattoir should be used.
  • Choose safely processed foods such as pasteurized milk.

The GRDM EHPs are the first point of contact in ensuring that workplaces are safe, hygienic, and healthy places to work in.

If you become aware of non-compliance, please report it to 082 804 5161.

Feature Image: Environmental Health Practitioners from Garden Route District Municipality in Mossel Bay with employees from a local restaurant.

ENDS