Food and Associated Industries Overview
The inspection system of the Food & Associated Industries Department (FAI) is based on monitoring and surveillance of factories, processes, and products.
FAI also conducts market surveillance inspections and participates actively in the Border enforcement activities of the NRCS.
FAI assists role players to comply with local and international requirements and is recognized by Authorities in various countries, such as China, Russia, and the EU, as the competent authority for the inspection and issue of health guarantees of fish or fishery products destined for Europe.
FAI is an internationally accredited inspection body and fully complies with SANS/ISO 17020 General Criteria for the Operation of Various Types of Bodies Performing Inspection. It has a panel of highly trained and technically competent inspectors, some of whom are expert members of international food inspection bodies.
FAI works in close co-operation with other regulators of food safety and inspectors are authorized to carry out inspections on behalf of the Department of Health in terms of the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act. FAI participates actively in national and international food safety activities including those of the Codex Alimentarius Commission. This is necessary because South Africa is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and South African food regulatory authorities are obliged to ensure compliance with the WTO Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) agreements.
The department has entered into a number of international technical co-operation agreements and inspection standards are continuously benchmarked against other national and international inspection systems and world best practices.
FAI is responsible for the processing and sampling of aqua-culture products in co-operation with other Government roleplayers, hence supporting the Ocean Economy as iterated in Operation Phakisa.
The Unit is also the leading Regulator for the administration and enforcement of the Compulsory specification for processed meat products that cover the local production, exports, and imports. The products, systems, processes, and factories are continuously monitored to ensure their safety.
Approval and Inspection
The Business Unit applies the farm to fork principle by conducting product, facility, market surveillance (shops, wholesalers, and retailers) and process inspections on a monitoring and random basis. After sampling, product inspections are done physically at the factories or at an inspection laboratory at the NRCS where it is checked against local and international requirements. Visual product inspections are also conducted in the markets and during verification inspections. Normal physical factory inspections are done where the hygiene, construction, production processes, and systems are checked to determine compliance with the Compulsory specifications. Due to Covid-19, the Unit has implemented remote inspections where factories are inspected electronically. In certain cases, a combination of physical and electronic inspections of factories are conducted. Fishing vessels, cold stores, ice plants and product offloading sites are all inspected to support the farm to fork principle. Port of entry container inspections are also conducted in line with the Border Enforcement Strategy and when other government departments mandate the NRCS even if there are no Compulsory Specifications associated with the inspection.
The Business Unit issues approvals on local and imported products as well as for exported products. It is also a requirement that factories are pre-approved when various documents and evidence related to the factory are provided. Approval of imported and exported products is based both on compliance with administrative requirements and physical and verification inspections. Health Guarantees are furnished for exported products, certificates of compliance for imported products, and approval certificates for factories that cover both the local products and the facilities where it is produced. Substandard products not complying with the Compulsory Specification may only be marketed with a Sales permit with strict conditions and products and facilities that are non-compliant are subjected to a sanctioning process.