Batswana ignorant about food safety standards

Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) Principal Standards Scientist, Molefe Banyaditse says most Batswana are ignorant about standards set for food they consume everyday. He said Batswana have a tendency of not demanding quality food and accept less than the recommended quality of the food they purchase and consume.

“Food standards are created to protect both the consumer and the manufacturer but most Batswana are very ignorant to this fact. We are a very flexible and accepting nation, even when we should demand more we would rather just accept what is given without any complaints and move on. Right now we do not have a Food Safety Act that is fully equipped to help us implement certain standards. As is the case right now, people can pretty much do anything they want. For example chicken should not be sold unrefrigerated, but here we have people who sell it in the streets and it’s not everyday that you see relevant authorities checking if street vendors are abiding by the food standards.”

He said the other worrisome factor about food standards is that so many have been passed without any input from the public. He said this is because most of the time they (public) do not bother to comment on the draft standards during the two months period reserved for public comments before the standard can be passed. He noted that even though they make a point to educate the public on standards, more should be done to sensitize them to realize the importance of taking part in creating food standards that affect their everyday lives.

Fruits and Vegetables Technical Committee Chairperson Otsoseng Oagile said there is a general sense of relaxation when it comes to food standards in Botswana, noting that even the Food Control Act is not being used fully to make sure food substances consumed by the public are safe. He said it is very disappointing to go into shops and find rotten fruits and vegetables as well as other foods that do not look up to standard on shelves.  He said the ministry responsible for implementing food standards should create confidence in the products people eat or drink by ensuring that everyone uses the same recipe when it comes to food quality, safety and efficiency, which he admitted is hardly the case in Botswana.

“If the Act was implemented to the latter, such things would not happen anywhere in the country, but because it is not fully implemented and customers do not demand the best quality, these things continue to happen. We have all found ourselves standing in a supermarket aisle, sorting out fruits and vegetables to at least get those that look better than the others. This should not be the case when you walk into a supermarket because they should all be of quality as recommended by the standards,” said  said Oagile.

“The rainfall this season will be below normal with the temperatures being above normal. This year we have El-nino effect which means we are looking at another a dry season”